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the ppesence of this Book 

thej.m. kelly 
has Been ma6e possiBle 
thpouqh the qeneposity 

Stephen B. Roman 

From the Library of Daniel Binchy 




YOL. I. 



(JUw ?)orft 











F.R.S.E., M.R.A.S. 



VOL. \ 















IN 1882, the Government of India printed at Calcutta 
a Manual of the Land -Tenures and Land-Revenue 
Systems of British India, which was written by me under 
the orders of Government. The edition was exhausted in 
two or three years ; but as about that time great changes 
in the law were under consideration, it was thought 
desirable to await the passing of the Bengal Tenancy Act 
(1885), the Oudh Rent Act (1886), and the Panjab Land- 
Revenue and Tenancy Acts (1887) to say nothing of 
minor enactments before preparing a new edition. 

When (in 1888-9) things seemed ripe for a new issue 
corrected and brought up to date, I found that so much 
had to be altered and added, and that such improvements 
might be made, especially in the chapters on Land- 
Tenures, that it would be better to write a new book. 
The present work is therefore independent of the original 
volume, except as regards a very few pages. It has also 
been illustrated by maps. In this form it is much larger, 
and may be less adapted for the purposes of some officials 
who have to pass an examination in Land-Revenue subjects : 
on the other hand, it will have become, I hope, much better 
suited to the needs of others ; and it is certainly more 


complete as a general handbook of the Land-Systems of 
British India. 

As regards Forest-Officers and others for whom the 
present work is too detailed, or contains too much on 
branches of Revenue work such as Assessment with 
which they are not practically concerned, it will be easy 
to meet their requirements by the subsequent issue of a 
' Primer ' or Shorter Manual especially written for them. 

B. H. B. P. 


March, 1892. 


L.R. = Land- Revenue. S. = Settlement. 



I. INTRODUCTORY . . . . . . 1-29 




BRITISH INDIA ..... 94-240 

SECT. i. Nature of the Subject ... 94 

,, n. The Village ..... 104 

,, in. Tenures arising out of L.-R. grants 

and L.-R. farming . . . 179 
iv. Modification of tenures by super im- 
position of new interests . . 191 
v. The relation of Landlord and Tenant . 206 
,, vi. The nature of property in land . . 216 

SYSTEMS ...... 241-386 

SECT. i. Introductory . . . . . 241 

ii. Origin of the L.-R. .... 246 

in. Ancient authorities regarding the 

'King's share' .... 264 



SECT. iv. The beginning of regular Assessment 

under Native rule . . . 274 

v. The beginning of British Systems . 281 

vi. The main principles of the Bengal 
Settlement and what has resulted 
from them ..... 286 

vn. Eesults of the acquisition of other 

Provinces . . . . . 291 

vizi. The machinery of British L.-K. Ad- 
ministration . . . . . 3 2 3 

ix. Resum of the principles of L.-R. 

Assessment . . . . . 328 

x. The modern question of a general 

Permanent Settlement . . . 340 

xi. The Department of Agriculture and 

Revenue ..... 349 

xii. Reform in Procedure for Re-Settle- 
ments 355 

,, xui. Suspension and remission of Land- 
Revenue ..... 369 

xiv. Conclusion . . . . . 373 

Appendix. (Extract from the Gazette of India of 
3 ist March, 1888, being a review of the later L.-R. 
Administration by the Finance Member of the Governor- 
General's Council) . . . . . . . 376 


SECT. i. Introductory . . . . . 443 
,, n. The Temp. S. Law and Procedure . 450 
,, m. The Orissa Settlements . . . 473 
iv. The Waste Land Rules . . . 479 
v. The L.-R. System of Chittagong . 489 
vi. of the Chutiya Nag- 
pur Districts . . . . . 493 



SECT. vii. The L.-E. System of the Santal Per- 496 
gunnahs ...... 

,, vin. ,, of Jalpaiguri and 

Darjiling ..... 498 

III. THE LAND-TENURES ..... 501-597 

SECT. i. General remarks . . . . 501 

ii. The Zammdar Landlord . . . 504 

,, in. Other proprietary tenures . . 524 

,, iv. Eevenue-free Holdings . . . 527 

v. Proprietary tenures of modern origin . 532 

,, vi. ' Tenures ' (in a special sense) . . 533 

,, vn. Laud-tenures of Chittagong . . 554 

vin. . Orissa . . . 561 

ix. Chutiya Nagpur . 574 

,, x. ,, Santal Pergunnahs , 588 







I. THE L.-E, SETTLEMENT (N.-W. P.) . . 1-97 

SECT. i. Introductory ..... i 

,, ii. Early Eevenue History (1801-1833) . 11 

in. L.-R. Settlement Procedure . 27 

,, iv. Principles of Assessment ... 41 

,, v. Arrangements following the Assessment 81 

vi. Land Eecords prepared at S. . 84 

Appendix. Eules for Assessment framed under 

Act XIX of 1873 . 92 



II. THE LAND-TENURES ..... 98-194 

SECT. i. General Remarks .... 98 

ii. The Village-Tenures .... 108 

,, in. Revenue-free Holdings . . . 154 

iv. The Taluqdari or Double Tenure . 157 

v. Tenants ...... 167 


PART i. The Land-Tenures .... 196-255 

ii. The L.-R. Settlement . . . 255-267 

AND PROCEDURE (N.-W. P. AND OUDH) . 268-305 


SECT. i. South Mirzapur .... 306 

,, ii. Kumaon and Garhwal . . . 308 

,, in. The Tarai 315 

iv. Jaonsar Bawar . . . . . 316 



II. THE TENURE OF LAND ..... 327-330 




I. THE OLD SETTLEMENTS ..... 368-405 


III. THE LAND-TENURES ..... 440-499 

PROCEDURE ...... 500-531 


I. THE L.-E. SETTLEMENTS . . . . 532-608 

II. THE LAND TENURES ..... 609-726 

SECT. i. General Considerations . . . 609 

ii. The N.-W. Frontier Tract . . 633 



SECT. in. The Southern River Tract . . 657 

iv. The Central Districts . . 665 

v. The Cis-Sutlej Districts . . 677 

vi. The S.-E. Frontier (Delhi Districts) . 684 

vn. The Hill Districts . . . . 692 

viii. The Double Tenure . . . 697 

,, ix. Revenue-free Holdings . . . 698 

x. Tenants ..... 703 
,, xi. The Special Law and Local features 

of the Hazara District . . . . 7 22 

PROCEDURE 727-771 






PROCEDURE ...... 84107 

IV. THE LAND-TENURES ..... 108-194 

SECT. i. History of the Madras Village . . 109 

,, ii. The Raiyatwari Tenure of the present day 128 
in. The Zamindari and other Landlord 

Tenures ..... 130 

,, iv. The Tenures depending on L.-R. grant 139 

,, v. The Tenure of Waste Lands . . 141 

vi. Tenancies and Under-Tenancies . . 142 

vn. South Canara . . . . . 143 

vin. Malabar . . . . . . 151 

ix. The Nflgiri District . . . 184 




II. THE LAND-TENURES ..... 248-306 

SECT. I. Introductory ..... 248 

ii. Village Tenures . . . . 251 

,, in. Modern legal definition of the Village 

Landholder's right . . . 269 

iv. Double Tenures . . . . 275 

,, v. ' Alienated ' Lands . . . . 298 

,, vi. Eights in Trees .... 304 


PROCEDURE ...... 307-320 



I. THE SETTLEMENT ...... 345-356 

II. THE LAND-TENURES ..... 357-382 

SECT. i. Introductory . . . . . 357 

n. Village Tenures . . . . 358 

,, ni. Tenure by Office . . . . 372 

,, iv. Tenure by Grant . . . . 376 


PROCEDURE ...... 383-391 


I. INTRODUCTORY ...... 392-395 


(History, Land-Tenures, L.-E. Settlement) . 396-429 


SECT. i. Goalpara ..... 430 

n. Cachar . 433 

in. Sylhet . 443 

iv. The Hill Districts . . . . 451 


PROCEDURE ...... 458-464 




I. GENERAL HISTORY ..... 465-468 

IT. THE LAND-TENURES ..... 469-479 

TIT. L.-K. ADMINISTRATION ..... 480-482 



II. THE LAND-TENURES ..... 489-508 

III. THE L.-E. SETTLEMENT .... 509-526 


PROCEDURE . . . . 527-533 

V. UPPER BURMA ...... 534544 




TEEMS (VERNACULAR) .... 589-632 


VOL. I. 

India, showing the sequence of Territorial acquisition 
India, showing the different systems of Land-Revenue 


Table showing Surveyed and Assessed Area in 1886-87. 
Sketch map of Bengal 


Sketch map of the North-West Provinces and Oudh 
Soils classified by Settlement officers .... 
Tract as further classified by Settlement officers for 

purposes of assessment ...... 

Sketch map of Central Provinces showing distribution 

of area ......... 

Panjab and surrounding countries .... 

Sketch map showing distribution of tribes in the Gujrat 

district ......... 


Madras Presidency . 
Bombay Presidency 


Burma and adjacent countries 


in a pocket. 

in a pocket. 

to face page 375 


to face page 3 




to face page 3 
Z 97 




P. 15, 1. 26. Panjab also, dele also 

P. 19, 1. 6. The closing bracket should be at the end of the sentence, 
just before the full stop. 

P. 103. 1. 6 from the bottom, for for read from 

P. 104, 1. i, for has read have 

P. no, 1. 9, for is read are 

P. 118, 1. 3, for for instance read possible 

P. 172, 1. 3, for and read or 

P. 183, note (last line but one), for were read was 

P. 197, 1. 20, for for read from 

P. 232, 1. n, after Malleson says insert ( 2 ) note reference. 

P. 301, 1. ii, for Sec. VII. read Sec. VI. 

P. 323 (heading of section), for Sec. IX. read Sec. VIII. and so on, to the 

P. 407, 8, shoidd be headed SECTION II. THE PROCEDURE OF THE 

P. 412, 1. 29, for were read had been 

P. 466, 1. i, for from read for 

P. 552, 1. 1 8, for it at all read it all 




Fifth Eeport of the Select Committee of the 

House of Commons on the Affairs of the 

East India Company (1812). This was re- 
printed at Madras in 1866 and 1883 (2 vols.) ' Fifth Eeport.' 
Harington's Analysis of the Bengal Begula- 

tions, 1821 (3 vols.). (I have used also a 

Eeprint of the portion relating to the 

Ee venue System, published at Calcutta, 

Government Press, 1866) . . . 'Harington.' 

A Memoir of Central India, including Malwa 

and adjoining Provinces, &c., by Major- 
General Sir John Malcolm, 1824. (Eeprint 

from the 3rd Edition. 2 vols. Calcutta, 

Thacker & Spink, 1880) .... Malcolm.' 

Annals and Antiquities of Eajast'han, or the 

Central and Western Eajpoot States of India, 

by Lieutenant-Colonel James Tod, 1829, 

(Third Eeprint. 2 vols. Madras, Higgin- 

botham, 1880) "Tod.' 

The Present Land-Tax in India, &c. (Lt.-Col.) 

John Briggs. (i vol. London, Longmans, 

1830) 'Briggs.' 

VOL. I. 1> 




The Administration of the East India 

Company. John William Kaye. (London, 

R, Bentley, 1853) 'Kaye.' 

The Land Tax of India, by Neil B. E. Baillie. 

(London, Smith & Elder, 1873) . . . . 'Baillie.' 
Lectures on Indian Law, by W. Markby, 

M.A., one of the Judges of the High Court. 

(Calcutta, 1873) 'Markby.' 

The Law relating to the Land-Tenures of 

Lower Bengal. Tagore Law Lectures, 

1 874-7 5, by Arthur Phillips. (Calcutta, 

1876) 'Phillips.' 

Eeport on the Land-Kevenue System, Bengal, 

Behar, and Orissa, 1882-83, submitted by 

the Board to Government of Bengal, Octo- 
ber 31 st, 1883. (Calcutta, Secretariat Press) 'Report, 1883.' 
Landholding and the Relation of Land- 
lord and Tenant in Various Countries, by 

C. D. Field, LL.D. 2nd edition. (Calcutta, 

Thacker and Spink, 1885) 'Field.' 

The Bengal Tenancy Act, VIII of 1885 (as 

amended by Act VIII of 1886), with notes 

and rulings, &c., by R. F. Rampini and 

M. Finucane. 2nd edition. (Calcutta, Thacker, ' R. and F. Ten- 

Spink & Co., 1889) ancyAct.' 

' Settlement Report ' (of various districts) . . 'S. R.' 









THE student who approaches the subject of Indian Land- 
tenures, and of the systems under which the State levies 
a revenue from the land, has probably a vague idea that 
he is about to enter on a terra incognita or to plunge into 
some mysterious and unintelligible darkness. A few words 
of encouragement at the outset seem therefore desirable. 
I do not wish to pretend that the subject of land-tenure 
is free from difficulty, still less that it is impossible to 
be in doubt regarding many questions which have to be 
decided on a comparison of more or less fragmentary 
evidence, some of which is traditional and much of it 
matter of direct or indirect inference. Holt Mackenzie, an 
eminent authority on Revenue matters he was Secretary 
to the first Revenue Commission which originated the Board 
of Revenue for the North- West Provinces said that he 
had been all his life studying land-tenures without under- 
standing them ; and the older text-books abound with 
remarks to the same general effect. But it should be 
remembered that Holt Mackenzie lived and studied in the 
early years of the present century, when village-tenures 
were only just discovered, and when everybody's mind was 
rilled with the one idea, that the only possible form of 
land-holding was by a landlord who let his lands to tenants 
at a stated rent. The early forms of property had not been 

VOL. I. B 


considered. No Haxthausen, Von Maurer, De Laveleye, 
H. S. Maine, or Seebohm, had yet arisen to set men think- 
ing and comparing and making use of the materials that 
were to be found in different countries. Sanskrit and 
Arabic literature and law were only beginning to be ex- 
plored, and no one had found out anything about the his- 
tory of the Aryan conquerors and colonizers of India *, still 
less about the so-called Dravidian races which before the 
Aryan inroad had formed organized States in Central 
and Southern India, or about the Kolarian tribes whose 
remnants are still found in that part of Western Bengal 
called Chota (properly Chutiya) Nagpur, in the ' Santal 
Parganas,' and in the Vindhyan Mountains which divide 
Upper and Central India. 

Our sources of information have immensely multiplied 
since those days. Not only have we works whose chief 
value is that they suggest the right use of materials tell 
us how to extract the pure metal from the crude ore of 
tradition and semi-mythical literature, and to read the 
meaning of ancient forms and customs, but we have for 
nearly every district in India valuable materials in the form 
of ' Manuals ' (for the Madras districts) and the volumes 
known as ' Settlement Reports ' in other Provinces. I may 
explain that when the Land Revenue Settlement operations 
of a district (or part of a district) are concluded, when 
rights have been recorded, and the interests of all classes 
in the land set down in due form, and when the assessment 
of the revenue on the field, the ' village ' or the estate (as 
the case may be), has been determined, the Settlement 
officer gathers up the results of his work in a printed 
volume (in English) which contains the history of the 
district and all peculiarities of its locale, its people and their 
land-tenures. In preparing this Manual I have studied 
some dozens of such reports. They are not indeed always 
easily obtained, nor are they light reading especially to 

1 I doubt whether Holt Macken- States of modern Rajputana, or 

zie had known Col. Tod's Study of whether he knew of Col. Wilk's 

the Aryan (Rajput) tribes whose Study of the Hindu State organiza- 

last permanent home was in the tion as exemplified in Mysore. 


those who have not official knowledge and experience 1 but 
many of them are storehouses of valuable information. At 
the beginning of the century no such aids were available, 
for one of the many misfortunes attaching to our first Settle- 
ments in Bengal and Madras (Permanent Settlements as 
they are called) was that no information about tenures and 
agricultural customs was recorded. The early writers 
could find in the celebrated ' Fifth Report on the affairs of 
the East Indies,' presented to the House of Commons (1812, 
and since reprinted in Madras), a multitude of unarranged 
and rather confused details about the landholders in 
Bengal and North Madras called 'Zamindars,' but that is 
all. And without enlarging on a su-bject which must be 
unintelligible till we come to -our chapter on land-tenures, 
I will only say that the tenure of the ' Zamindar ' of Bengal 
represents a late if not the latest development in land- 
interest, and was the localized outcome of a dying and 
corrupt system of State management. The study of it threw 
no light on the real customary tenures of the country. 

It is true that I have found a single report of 1796 
describing the real natural tenures of the Benares districts : 
but I have rarely seen it quoted ; and all our early authorities, 
who are responsible for the dissemination of the idea that 
Indian land-tenures are unintelligible, appear only just 
to have heard of ' village ' tenures, and to have started 
with the idea, derived from Bengal, that all land must 
have sortie landlord, with tenants under him. 

In studying, then, the land-tenures of India, we must be 
prepared for difficulties, and expect to find lacunce which 
we cannot fill up or only supply conjecturally and pro- 
visionally ; but it would be exaggeration to go on saying 
that a fair amount of clear knowledge on the subject is 

1 There are also volumes of re- equally valuable") Elliott's Report on 
prints of special reports and papers Hoshangabad (Central Provinces), 
known as ' Selections from the Ee- Benett's onGonda (Oudh), Ibbetsoix 
cords' of the several Governments. on Karnal (Panjab\ Roe on Multan 
Among the notable Settlement Re- (Panjab), Logan on Malabar ^ Ma- 
ports I may instance as samples dras), and Pedder's Bombay Reports, 
(but there are many others almost 

B 2 


unattainable 1 with moderate study and a fair memory for 

And as to the systems under which the Land-Revenue is 
assessed and afterwards collected, there is no excuse for 
regarding their study as of excessive difficulty, when there 
is scarcely a province that has not its Land-Revenue and 
Tenancy Acts and Regulations besides many hand-books 
and volumes of circular orders, and special Reports. 
In the aggregate, no doubt, these documents form an 
extensive and even a forbidding literature ; and they are 
often written so as to be puzzling to a beginner, or a non- 
official reader. A guide to them is necessary, and it is the 
express object of my present work to supply the need: 
whether the object has been in any degree satisfactorily 
attained, it will be for the reader to judge ; but I may ex- 
plain, that I have endeavoured to give only the essential 
features of the Acts and orders, confining myself to what 
is really important and practical, while I have indicated in 
footnotes the sources whence a more detailed knowledge 
may be obtained. 

May I be permitted also to add a word of general 
explanation as to my method. It may be said that subjects 
are treated in too positive or even dogmatic a manner. 
But in the first place, space is limited, and room could 
not be afforded for many qualifying and apologetic para- 
graphs and for repeated drawbacks on the statements 
made. Moreover, a continued hesitancy, a suggestion of 
conflicting possibilities and an atmosphere of scepticism 
and uncertainty, is apt to be puzzling to a beginner ; and it 
is beginners and ' outsiders ' to the Revenue official circle 
that have been kept in mind. I have endeavoured to give 
my authorities, and to state as fact only what is fairly 
receivable as such : if any one thinks the facts lead to other 

1 If by ' understanding ' land- the more modest task of getting an 

tenures we mean possessing a com- adequate knowledge of the facts as 

plete theory of origin and growth, they are, or as they have become, 

perhaps land-tenures will long re- then I see no reason for supposing 

main ' not understood.' But if we that we are or need be in any such 

mean that we cannot accomplish position of difficulty. 


conclusions than those I have drawn, he will have no great 
difficulty in working out another view. Possessed in the 
first instance of a definite outline of the subject, even if it 
is too strongly drawn in parts, the student who afterwards 
goes into detail in Indian official life, will fast enough dis- 
cover where he would prefer to draw the lines a little more 
faintly or uncertainly, or where he would desire to give a 
different colour to the phenomena of landholding customs. 
The text will always afford a sufficient indication where 
there is room for an interpretation other than that which 
it adopts. 

With these few prefatory explanations I may at once 
proceed to the direct subject of the chapter. I have to dis- 
cuss certain general topics which it will be useful to 
explain by way of preparation for the study which we are 
to enter on. 

i. The term 'India.' 

Sir John Strachey, in his admirable Lectures on India l 
a work which I advise every student to read has already 
spoken of the dangers attaching to the use of a general 
term like 'India.' It is geographical only. In no other 
sense is there any one country which can properly be called 
'India.' Within the confines of the area so marked on 
the map, we have a series of provinces inhabited by different 
races, and often speaking different languages. The in- 
habitants of the Panjab for example even in the same 
province are so different, that a Peshawar tribesman in 
the north could hardly make himself understood at Delhi 
or Hisar in the south-east. Religious and other differences 
divide the populations, and racial antipathies are not 
unknown : Sikhs have no love for Hindustanis, and a 
Bengali Babu 2 at Lahore is regarded as a foreigner almost 

1 ' India/ by Sir John Strachey. family, then a native gentleman 
London: Kegan Paul, Trench & in general. It is now commonly em- 
Co. (1888). i vol. ployed to designate a pleader, at- 

2 The term properly means a ca- torney, or office-clerk, 
det or younger son of a noble 


as much as the Englishman is. The mere fact that one 
portion of the general population is Hindu and the other 
Muhammadan is in itself a permanent source of difference. 
And there is little internal uniformity among those who are 
called Hindus, and little more than a semblance of it among 
the Muhammadan races, despite the fact of a common creed 
and a common form of worship. 

Those who have read Sir A. Lyall's Asiatic Studies 
know how protean in form Hinduism is ; local deities and 
deified personages are readily adopted, thus giving a 
different complexion to the worship of each locality: in 
fact there is nothing common to Hindus as a body, except 
certain social ideals and rules. Otherwise the Hindu castes 
in the several provinces, have very little connection. The 
Sikh religion, again, is far removed from the Hindu ideal ; 
and the great bulk of the peasant population of the Panjab 
that is returned as ' Hindu,' is so only in the sense that the 
people are not Sikhs and are not Muhammadan. They have 
learned a certain respect for Hindu festivals and for Brah- 
mans, because those ubiquitous caste-men travel everywhere 
and skilfully introduce at least a portion of their ideas ; but 
the Hindu law of the books and commentaries is unknown 
to the Jat and Gujar and Rajput landholding peasantry. 

Even among Muhammadans, to say nothing of hostile 
sects of Shia and Sunni, great numbers are perfectly 
ignorant converts, knowing nothing beyond the simple 
formula of the faith. In the Panjab, for instance, these 
people follow their local customs of inheritance ; and it is 
perhaps chiefly the action of the law-courts that enforces a 
certain respect for the regular law in matters of marriage, 
divorce, minority and bastardy, otherwise it is not known 
or respected in practice. In a word, the various castes and 
races in the different provinces diverge from one another as 
much (or more) as the people of Scotland do from those of 
Naples, or the peasantry of Normandy from the moun- 
taineers of the Tyrol. 

Common influences there are, which have extended far 
and wide. The Muhammadan conquest, for example, intro- 


duced the use of Persian or Arabic terms regarding land 
all over India, and with the terms, many practices and 
principles of Revenue management. And certain land- 
customs and family customs derivable from early Dravidian 
and Aryan traditions among Hindus, as well as official 
titles derived from the Rajput State System, may be 
traced in provinces widely separated. But while we shall 
take note of such wide-spread influences, and make the 
best use of the facts they disclose, we shall not be misled 
into supposing that all Indian peoples are more or less 
identical, or their ideas the same. Of the mistaken 
supposition of unity throughout ' India ' we shall soon meet 
with practical examples. I shall shortly have to explain 
how the same conditions of life have brought about 
everywhere the aggregation of the cultivating classes into 
groups, which we call ' villages,' but they are not all in one 
form. Yet we find the standard histories of India giving 
general accounts of the ' Indian Village ' as if the form 
described was prevalent everywhere and one general 
description sufficed for all. Another instance of confusion 
is perhaps more due to the use of a common name than to 
any assumption of unity among the provinces. I allude 
to the term ' Zamindar.' We first came in contact with a 
certain class of landholder in Bengal known by this name, 
and from the language of some of the earlier Regulations 
and minutes, it would seem as if the same form of landholding 
must exist everywhere. This of course is not the case. 
But unfortunately the vernacular term (in itself) means 
' holder ' of ' land,' and so it easily got used to designate 
entirely different things. It is applied to particular forms of 
landed interest, entirely special or local, it is also used in the 
widest sense to signify the landholding class generally. If 
you meet a peasant in Northern India, for example, and ask 
him who he is, he will probably reply, ' I am a poor man 
a zamindar.' He does not mean that he is a great estate 


2. Some common geographical terms used in India. 

While we are on the subject of India, it may be well to 
explain some common terms used to denote different parts 
of the country which have often distinctive features, though 
they do not coincide with provinces or express divisions 
recognized for Government purposes. In reading these re- 
marks, the student should have a map of India before him. 

Northern 'Northern India' is applied to the part of the country 
which is north of the Vindhyan Mountains, and north-west 

Southern of Benares or thereabout. ' Southern India' applies to the 
province or Presidency of Madras, including part of the 

Central State of Hyderabad. ' Central India ' will not be confused 
with the ' Central Provinces'; the former is an area really 

Central ' <* 

Provinces, central, and consists mostly of Native States ; the latter is 
a British province, having its capital in Nagpur, and lies 
between the Tapti and Narbada rivers on the north-west, 
and the Wardha and Godavari on the south-east. 

The The ' Dakhan,' commonly written Dekkan or Deccan, 

T) *i k h Rn 

is a convenient term which is employed to signify the part 

of India south of the Narbada river and inland of the 

Ghats or range of hills that run down the western as well 

as the eastern side of the Peninsula ; but it is not employed 

to include the whole of the Peninsula, and may be said to 

terminate southwards about the line of the Mysore State, 

and to include Hyderabad. Its southern limit is however 

The east rather indefinite. The eastern and western coasts of the 

coasts and Peninsula are less commonly spoken of as the Coromandel 

their hill an( j Malabar coasts respectively. Alone: each, at a greater 


or less distance from the sea-shore, runs a line of hills 
much more continuous on the west side than it is on the 
east. On the west side also the country between the crest of 
the hills (or ' Ghat ' as they are called) and the sea-shore is 
more distinct in character than it is on the east. The sea- 
board, for instance, below Bombay to the Kistna river, is 
called the Konkan (Concan), and southward of that come 
the interesting and specialized districts of Kannada (Canara 
or Kanara) and Malabar. 


I may mention that ' Ghat,' besides meaning the hillrange Ghat, 
itself, is the common Indian term for any pass, gorge or 
passage leading into the hills, especially in Central, Eastern, 
and Southern India. Thus the visitor who has taken the 
beautiful drive up to Ootacamund the favourite summer 
resort of the Southern presidency will remember that he 
heard the people talk of ' going up the Ghat 1 ' : so in 
all these countries the districts on the uplands are said to 
be ' above Ghat ' or ' balaghat,' while those at the foot are 
said to be ' below Ghat ' or ' payin-ghat.' 

We shall hear much in the sequel of native chiefs whose 
freehold land is spoken of as held on the ' Ghatwali ' 
tenure, because they held the land free of revenue or on 
privileged terms, on condition of maintaining a force to 
keep the passes into the hills clear of robbers and prevent 
raids on to the low-lying lands. 

' Hindustan ' is a term which is properly applied to that ' Hindus- 
northern-central region that lies above the Vindhyan 
Mountains and about the great plain or valley of the 
Ganges river as far west as the Jamna. 

The 'Panjab' the land of the five (panj, P.) rivers or 'Pan jab.' 
waters (ab,P.) properly means the area bounded on the north- 
west by the Sindh Sagar or Indus river 2 and contained 
between the Rivers Jihlam, Chinab, Ravi, Bias and Sutlej 

The tracts of land between these rivers are called ' Doabs ' Doab.' 
(between 'two-'' waters'), each distinguished by a special 
addition : but ' the Doab ' par excellence is the great tract 
in the North- Western Provinces between the Ganges and the 
Jamn&r vers. 

1 The word means ' Gate ' or hills, and doubtless elsewhere in- 

' pass.' In the case of Ootacamund land where the people have never 

there is a long natural cleft or gully seen the sea, it means the big river 

in the hills along the side of which of the locality. Thus in the Simla 

the carriage road zigzags upwards hills the people will tell you that 

first on to one plateau and then on such and such a stream (nadi or 

to the higher one. nala) runs into the ' Sagar,' or great 

* The word Sgar is shown in River Sutlej in those parts at 

the dictionaries as meaning such and such a point, 
'ocean,' but in the Panjab and its 


& 3. Remarks about the Provinces. 

3 \~f 

In Chapter II a list is given of all the provinces or 
administrative divisions of British India. A few remarks 
may be here made as to the meaning of the names and 
what territories they include. 

The Commencing with the north, I have already explained 

anja . ^ e ^ erm < p an j a }3 ' b u t nav e to add that the Panjab as a 
province extends beyond the Indus to the north-west, and 
includes also the country beyond the Sutlej up to the Jamna, 
where the ' North- Western Provinces ' begin. Biluchistan, 
coloured as British territory on modern maps, is a separate 
political Chief Commissionership, and is not part either of 
Sindh or of the Panjab. 

North- The ' North- Western Provinces ' consist (i) of the tract 

Western k nown as < Rohilkhand,' because it was the site where the 

Rohillas or Rohelas, a tribe of adventurers from Afghanistan, 

established a cruel and oppressive rule till they were dis- 
lodged at the end of last century. (2) ' The Doab ' (as 
already stated) comprises all the districts between the 
Ganges and the Jamna ; (3) and the districts of Bandd, 
Hamirpur, Jhdnsi, Lalitpur and Jalaun are in Bundelkhand 
the country which was formerly the site of the conquest of 
an Aryan tribe called Bundela l . (4) There remain the dis- 
tricts east of Oudh ; and the group of permanently settled 
districts adjoining the Bengal frontier which, speaking 
generally, form the old' Benares Province,' acquired in 1775. 
The provinces as a whole are called ' North- Western,' be- 
cause at first they formed part of the Bengal Presidency, 
and were ' north-west ' of Bengal and Bihar. 

Bengal. The term ' Bengal ' is now generally used to mean the 
entire territory under the Lieutenant- Governor of Bengal. 
It includes (i) 'Bihar,' i. e. the districts north of the hills 
about Hazaribagh (the Rajmahal hills), as far east as the 
Mahanadi River. (2) Chota (or Chutiya) Nagpur, between 
Bihar and Orissa, occupying the western part of the pro- 
vince. (3) Orissa along the south-east coast, from near the 

1 Its name is still found in books pronounced like the English word 
as ' Bundlecund,' apparently to be bundle ! 


Subarnarekha River to the frontier of Madras 1 . (4) The 
' Santal parganas ' district (often written Sonthal, and also 
called in some bcoks ' Santalia') is a hilly tract of frontier 
country lying to the south-west of the Ganges and extend- 
ing from the river to the Chutiya Nagpur boundary. (5) 
' Bengal Proper ' is the rest of the Province. But it is 
usual further to divide it into Bengal (or Central Bengal), 
and Eastern Bengal ; for the latter country is in many ways 
distinct: it includes the districts of Chittagong, Tipperah 
(Tipra), Noacolly (Nawakhali), and as far north as Maim- 
ansingh and Rangpur, while along the mouths of the Hughli 
the country is known as the ' Sundarband/ and consists of 
an extent of swampy ' Delta ' country, intersected by tidal 
creeks, and covered with dense jungle and forest, except on 
the higher lands where cultivation is possible. 

'Assam' has been separated from Bengal since 1874, and 'Assam.' 
though ' Assam Proper ' or the ' Valley districts ' refers to 
the districts (beginning with Goalpara) which lie along the 
valley of the Tista river, the province as a whole includes 
the group of hills to the south of the river, viz. the Garos, 
Khasia, Jaintiya, &c., and the districts of Sylhet and 

The ' Central Provinces ' include the old ' Sagar and < Central 
Narbada (Saugor and Nerbudda) territories in the north and rovinces - 
north-west as well as the Nimar district, the Nagpur districts 
(escheated, on the death without heirs of the Bhonsla king), 
the ' Chhatisgarh plain,' and Sambalpur. These various 
parts will at once be understood by a glance at the map, 
and further details about their history will be found in 
Chapter II and in the chapters of the sequel specially re- 
lating to the Central Provinces. 

None of the other presidencies or provinces call for any 
general explanation. Purely local details will be mentioned 
in introducing the special chapters relating to the various 

1 That is the present extent of of the coast between the Subar- 
Orissa. The ' Orissa ' of 1765 when narekha river and the Hughli (now 
the E. I. Company received the nearly conterminous with the Mid- 
grant of 'Bengal, Bihar and Orissa' napore district, 
referred only to the small portion 








4. Certain features connected with land. Seasons and 


It may be convenient to remark that everywhere they 
recognize three main divisions of the seasons the cold 
season, the hot season, and the ' rains.' 

But of course there are great local differences. In some 
parts, as in the south, the cold season is only marked by 
a slight diminution of temperature, and that for a short 
time. In the Panjab, on the other hand, the climate is tem- 
perate from November to March, and quite cold in December 
and January, often with sharp frosts ; while an intense heat 
reigns from May to September or October. 

On the southern part of the east coast, the N.E. monsoon 
brings rain in November or later, but in other parts of India 
there is no rain at this time ; what rain falls in the cool 
season falls in December or January and is due to other 

The general rainy season is due to the S.W. monsoon, 
which brings rain from the end of May to September, vary- 
ing of course in the direction of beginning earlier or later, 
lasting a longer or shorter time, in different parts. In some 
parts the rainy season is a matter of occasional downpours 
between June and September ; in others there is a steady 
wet season from the end of May often to half through 
October. Again, there are almost rainless regions, where the 
' rainy season ' does not mean much, and where cultivation 
is only possible by the aid of river-overflow, or canals 
taken shorter or longer distances inland and wells sunk 
where the subsoil is still moist by percolation from the 

The general division of the year into a dry season (part 
of it colder than the rest) and a rainy season, has commonly 
resulted in the people of a large part of India recognizing 
two main harvests, one called ' rabi' ' (A.) : or by Hindi 
names as Hari, &c., and the other ' Kharif ' (Sawani, &c.). 


These terms will be remembered because they constantly 
occur, and regulate many matters connected with land- 

The ' rabi ?1 (or spring) harvest, in Northern and Northern- 
Central India, consists mainly of wheat, barley, and a pulse 
called by the English ' Gram ' (Cicer arietinum). It is 
often the principal harvest, sown about October 2 and 
reaped in April to May. The Kharif (or autumn) harvest 
(sown as soon as the rains set in) ripens in October and 
November or earlier, according to the staple grown. Sugar- 
cane, which is an important item of this harvest, does not 
ripen till later, and is frequently cut gradually, and is not 
off the ground all the winter. 

' The Kharif ' is the time when the millets and maize 
grow, and also fodder for the cattle. In Bengal the great 
rice harvest is the Kharif 3 . 

All these dates and details vary from place to place, but 
as a general indication they will be useful. 

5. The Agricultural and the ' Fasli ' Year. 

When Akbar began his reign, he desired to adopt an 
universal official year, which should correspond to the 
harvest seasons better than the Hijri year (with its 
changing lunar months) or the Hindu Samvat era. He 
began with the loth Sept. 1555 (A.D.), and arbitrarily 
called it ' Fasli 963,' being the Hijri year of his ascending 
the throne. This era (which can be found by deducting 
592, or 593 according to the month, from the year A.D.) was 
used for all .Revenue accounts. The ' Fasli ' in use in the 

1 Having once indicated the cor- general cultivation of rice is by no 
rect spelling of ' rabi,' we will here- means widely extended, and is con- 
after use 'rabi' (without accents) fined to Eastern and Central Bengal, 
for simplicity of printing. to Lower Burma, and to the moister 

2 The land having been ploughed parts of Madras and Bombay. Rice 
and prepared towards the close of is locally cultivated elsewhere, of 
the rains. course, but is regarded as a luxury 

3 People have an idea that the In- rather than as a staple food. 
dian populations live on rice. The 


Dakhan was begun by Shah Jahan in A.D. 1636. and is 
somewhat different. 

The ' agricultural year,' which is defined in Tenant and 
Land-Revenue Acts, is fixed for the convenience of date in 
enhancing rents and putting an end to tenancies. The 
year begins on some day between the i5th April and ist 
July, as the provincial climate may render convenient. It 
is not used as a date or era. 


' Inunda- 
tion ' 


6. Irrigation. 

Irrigation. The details of irrigation also affect many questions 
regarding land-revenue management, and, as we shall see, 
originate some customs of land-tenure. 

Canal irrigation is of two kinds ; regular canals which 
flow perennially, and those called 'inundation' canals, 
which only flow when the rivers are in full flood, being 
swelled by the rains of the ' Monsoon ' season, or by the 
melting of snows in the Himalaya^ or both, as the case 
may be. 

Some canals are small cuts made by private enterprise 
and managed according to local custom, as regards the dis- 
tribution of water and the supply of labour, or the cost 
of labour for keeping the channels clear of silt. These 
are mostly inundation canals, and have no regularly con- 
structed masonry head-works at the source. 

In some places on the north-west frontier, and I dare- 
say the same is true elsewhere, there are curious customs 
depending on the use of water in streams descending 
from the barren hills which only fill when a rainfall 
occurs. The successive rights to take the water, and 
the time during which it is to run on to each lot, as 
well as the dams to be maintained and the height above 
which they must not be piled up, are all regulated by 

Irrigation from wells is a feature of Northern and 
Northern-Central India. 



CHAP. I.] 


In the Panjab, water is raised by the Persian wheel 1 
all over the plain country as far to the south-east as the 
Sutlej, where (for what reason I cannot say) it gives way to 
other methods of which two are found more or less all over 
India. One consists in raising water in a large leather 
bag which is pulled over a wheel by means of a long rope 
drawn by bullocks : in the other the water is lifted in an 
earthen pot or a leather bucket fixed at one end of a long 
lever-pole, the other being weighted so as to let the empty 
vessel descend readily. 

Modifications of the 'well' are to be found in various 
parts, as where a small reservoir is constructed by the side 
of a river or channel, and some form of wheel or lift is em- 
ployed to raise the water (' Dhenkudi ' of Bombay, and the 
small wheel on canals, ' Jhalar' and 'raoti' of the Panjab 
and Sindh). 

In the Panjab we shall find that the area watered (or Customs 
protected, for the whole is not watered at once) by a well, ^h 60 *** 
and the number of wells in a village, is often a matter ' wells.' 
intimately connected with land customs and sharing among 
co-proprietors. A person has a fraction of a well a six- 
teenth or half perhaps or his land is otherwise estimated, 
and he has a share in the water, represented by so many 
' turns ' (varhi) at working the well in the course of a week 
or other stated time. 

In the Panjab also, and perhaps in other dry districts 
also, the term 'kuh' or well is constantly used, not 
merely of the actual water-shaft, but to mean the entire 
area of land cultivated under or in connection with, the 

Tank irrigation 2 is a great feature in Ajmer, in parts of Tank. 

1 This is a skeleton wheel fixed 
over the mouth of the well and 
carrying a long belt or ladder of 
rope to which a seriss of earthen 
pots are attached. As they succes- 
sively dip into the water they fill 
and remain full till they come to 
the top, when the movement of 

the belt inverts them and turns 
the contents into a wooden 
trough. The wheel is fitted 
with stout pegs or teeth which 
work into one upright wheel or 
drum moved round by oxen. 

2 The Ajmer chapter contains 
some rather curious details. 


Bombay, and in Madras. A ' tank ' does not mean a rectan- 
gular masonry-lined reservoir: that sort of tank is no 
doubt common, but mostly for bathing or in connection 
with a sacred place or temple. The irrigation tank is 
in fact a suitable soil-depression, storing up the rain and 
drainage water, and varying in size from a pond filling 
the upper part of a small valley, to a vast lake covering 
hundreds of acres. The tank is closed in by an embank- 
ment of earth and masonry, or both. In some cases 
this is an enormous work, and the bursting of it is the cause 
of great destruction to agriculture. The ' tank ' is always 
so situated that the rain water reaches it by flowing down 
all the water-courses, hill-sides, &c. of the neighbouring 
hills it is in fact the catchment area of the high land. 
An escape is afforded in case the water threatens to over- 
top the embankment. In some cases the tank represents 
a lake which is never dry: in others, the whole of the 
water is run off or dries up early in the season, and the 
bed, enriched with slime, and moistened by the previous 
soaking of the water, is ploughed up and cultivated. 

7. Orthography of Vernacular Names. 

The mention of Indian provinces and some of their 
general features has already led me to introduce local 
terms, and this again suggests the question of the method 
of writing the native names of places, and the words 
indicating tenures, offices, and persons, and how far 
tlie use of such terms untranslated is permissible. Two 
methods of writing are possible one is to endeavour to re- 
present the word as pronounced, by writing it phonetically 
or with such English letters and syllables as the writer thinks 
will convey the desired sound. The other is to trans- 
literate the real word into Roman letters. Unfortunately 
for the first method, English vowels (at any rate) have no 
uniform value or sound maintained under all circumstances : 
hence it is impossible to be sure what sound is meant to be 
represented. Especially in the case of ' out-of-the-way ' 


words. It is only a limited number of words that can be 
phonetically written with fair certainty. The method 
therefore neither gives the true word, nor does it give the 
real pronunciation, because hardly two people would read 
the combination of letters in the same way. I have 
adopted then, perforce, the other plan, wherever possible. 
I give the vernacular word transliterated into the Roman 
character 1 . At any rate this represents the true word, 
though it does not indicate the pronunciation. 

But this latter is of little consequence, because the value 
of the vernacular vowels being fixed and uniform, the 
student has only to master a very few rules or principles 
in order to pronounce quite accurately enough to be 
intelligible. And I wish at- once to give the necessary 
instructions applicable to the reading of the vernacular 
terms throughout the book. Speaking generally, the words 
are read as if they were Italian or with the ' continental ' 
sound to the vowels. The short vowels are printed plain, 
the long (or broad sound) vowels have an accent. Thus : 

Uniformly sounded as 

a a = must mast 

i i = pit peat 

u u = pull pool 

Of the other vowels ' e ' is always like the French e in 
' te'te,' so that the Hindi word ' pet ' ( = stomach) is pro- 
nounced like the English word 'pate,' and not like the 
word ' pet,' and an accent is not ordinarily required. In 
a few instances, I have put an accent on the (6) so as 
to remind the reader. And in Southern Indian names 
I have always added the accent, because there they use 
a short 8 sound as well as the long 6. 

t O ' also needs no accent ; it is always long as in ' depot,' 
not as in ' pot.' Thus we speak of Gond tribes Goand, not 
short as in ' pond.' 

1 In order to indicate the origin is Persian ; Pj. means Punjabi ; A 

of the terms, a capital letter is often Arabic, S. Sanskrit, and H. a Hindi 

added: thus P. means the word dialect. 

VOL. I. C 


Of the diphthongs, ' ai ' is always pronounced like the 
English ' eye ' (not like 'jay '). ' Au ' is as in ' bough ' (not 
as in ' awe '). 

As regards the accented and plain vowels, short ' a ' 
has the sound of ' a ' in ' organ,' never of ' a ' in ' pan.' 
As this vowel naturally inheres in every Sanskrit or Hindi 
consonant, it is constantly occurring, and attention to 
this one rule will almost secure a tolerable enunciation of 
words. ' Parasu-Rama/ e.g., must be read like the English 
syllables purr-us-soo-Rama, and not as if it were the 
English ' parasol ' or ' rammer.' 

The accented ' a ' is always broad. ' Allahabad' has all 
the ' a's,' except the first, as in the French ' gateau ' or 
Italian ' lago/ 

The ' i ' is as in the English ' pit,' and the accented ' i ' 
as our ' ee,' or 'ea ' in ' cheat' ; thus, Pitika(Pity-kah),Pilibhft 

The ' u ' is always as in ' push' or 'put,' never as in 'jug,' 
' pug' (which latter sounds would be supplied by short ' a,' 
without any accent, as above described). 

The accented ' u ' is always as our ' oo ' and never the 
' you ' sound peculiar to English. Thus read ' Telugu ' as 
Teloogoo, not as ' Tell-you-gou,' and ' puram 'as in ' poor,' 
not 'pure.' 

Of consonants little need be said. The ordinary reader 
need not attempt the niceties of sound ; but I may mention 
a general distinction in t's and d's (which are very common 
letters), viz. that some are dental (pronounced with a touch 
of the tongue against the teeth), and others palatal (touch 
against the palate). The latter are distinguished by a dot 
under the letter. 

These dots will however not concern the ordinary 
student, and are retained for the use of those who are going 
to learn the vernacular dialects regularly. 

' Th ' is not sounded in any Indian dialect as a sibilant 
(i.e. like ' thin ' or ' that '). It is simply a hard ' t ' with a 
slight aspirate after it. 

The gutturals 'kh' and 'gh ' of Arabic and Persian words 

CHAP. I.] 


are indicated by drawing a line under the two letters, thus 
'kh' and 'gh' (pronounced like ' loch' in Scotch). 

The Arabic consonant 'ain is a sound the student need 
not trouble himself to try and pronounce ; it is hardly 
noticed except in writing, and is represented by the 
apostrophe (or by a') at the end of a word. Thus 'jama' ' 
= a total sum; ra'iyat=a subject, a cultivating tenant, 
' mu'af ' = pardoned. 

As there are two letters 'k' in the Perso- Arabic alphabet, 
one distinguished by the long ' tail ' and the other by two 
diacritical points, in the native character, I use ' k ' for 
the former, and ' q ' (without any conventional ' u ' added) 
for the latter. 

The letter ' y ' is always a consonant, and is never used 
as a vowel in transliterating. 

When an ' n ' is intended to be merely a nasal inton- 
ation, not a distinct letter, it is written with a dot ' n ' 
and then it is hardly sounded : e. g. ganw = a village, which 
is pronounced like ' gow ' with a nasal intonation. 

' G ' is ahvays hard, never as in ' gin,' which would be the 
' j ' sound. I have only to add that these instructions suffice 
for all words in Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, Hindi, Hindustani, 
Bengali, Marathi, &c., i.e. for Northern, Eastern, Western 
and Central India, and to a great extent in Madras also. 
But in this latter Presidency there are several separate 
languages Tamil, Telugu, Canarese and Malayalam ; there 
are also many names which are virtually Anglicized, and 
I have not knowledge enough if any change were de- 
sirable to restore a strict transliteration. In Burma also 
the language is wholly different, with a variety of 
additional vowel-sounds, and a transliteration system has 
not yet been fixed. In writing about that province I 
could, therefore, only adopt the common spelling ; but the 
native words I have used are very few, and by giving 
accented vowels the value above assigned, no great error 
will be perceptible. 

C 2 


8. Retention of Anglicized Names. 

Where a name of a river or place has become thoroughly 
English, I have retained the familiar form, indicating (if it 
is known) the real vernacular word in brackets. It would 
be affectation to ignore the common ' Calcutta ' (Kalkatta 
or Kalighat ?), ' Cawnpore ' (Kahanpur *), Oudh (Awadh 2 ), 
Lucknow (Lakhnau), Sutlej River (Satlaj), Sylhet (Srihatta 
or Silhatt), Chittagong (Ch^ttagraon) Lahore (Ldhaur), &c. 
The names of Burmese towns Rangoon, Prome, Moulmein, 
Mandalay, again, are virtually English words ; they have 
hardly any recognizable connection with the local ver- 
nacular names, and I have retained them as they are. 

In conclusion, I may say that if the student will only 
remember to give the 'continental' sound to his vowels, 
giving the accented vowels their broad or full sound, he will 
be able before he has finished a chapter, to read all the 
Indian names without hesitation, and quite correctly enough 
to be intelligible. Indian students will, on the other hand, 
have the real words, so that they can look them up in 
dictionaries and glossaries 3 . 

9. Employment of Vernacular terms. 

A few remarks have also to be made about the use of 
vernacular terms other than the names of places. A great 
number of vernacular revenue terms have not only come 
into use in the common speech of the people, but 
have been adopted into official language many of them 

1 The name is derived from Kahn has been the endeavour to trace the 
or Kahan, one of the names of the real form of vernacular words fanci- 
god Krishna (city of Kahn), and fully spelt (and rendered absolutely 
not the Persian Khan, as sometimes unintelligible) by the writers of Ke- 
said. ports and text-books, especially the 

2 But the word should be pro- earlier ones. I have had to conjec- 
nounced ' Owd,' not ' Ood,' as I ture of half-a-dozen possible sounds 
have heard done (i.e. as in proud which was right, and search and 
not prude}. search again in dictionaries till I 

3 I can assure the reader that not found it. Even so, I fear there 
the least part of the very great may be several mistakes. 

labour of getting up these volumes 


being Persian terms, survivals from the Revenue System of 
the Muhammadan Empire. How far may we use the 
original words in a book of this kind, and how far should 
we use translations? No doubt the plain rule is, when 
writing English, to use English words. But in matters of 
land-revenue and land-tenure there are necessarily many 
of the local and general terms which have no exact English 
equivalent; they represent institutions, offices, customs 
and forms of proceeding which do not belong to anything 
English or in England. Sooner or later the reader will find 
it necessary to know familiarly a few of the common land- 
terms, and when he has mastered the not very onerous 
task, he will find the vernacular words both shorter and 
more expressive than any attempted English substitutes. 
I cannot pretend to any system in determining when to 
use an English and when an Indian term ; I can only trust 
to the method adopted proving practically convenient. 

I have everywhere used the English word ' village ' as Tillage, 
the commonly accepted equivalent for the group of lands 
which is called in Revenue or official language ' Mauza ' or 
'Dm' (P.), or in Hindi dialects ganw, grama, gaum, &c. 
But the reader will at once understand that by ' village ' 
we do not mean a small collection of houses with a green, 
a few shops, and a church-spire rising above the ' imme- 
morial elms ' ; we mean always a group of landholdings 
aggregated in one place ; there is generally one, or more 
than one, group of dwellings situated somewhere in the area, 
and the ' village ' has a common tank, graveyard and cattle- 
stand, and probably an area of scrub jungle and grazing 
ground attached to it. 

Again, I may well use the English term Headman to 'Head- 
indicate the person who in some forms of village tenure is man> 
an essential part of the community, an hereditary officer 
of some consideration. Even where such a person is not 
essential to the social constitution of the village, the 
Government has generally appointed or recognized a 
headman in some form or other, because it is more con- 
venient to deal with one man and make him the medium 


of communication and the representative. At the same 
time, while the English does well enough to replace the 
great variety of local names that exist 1 , it does 
not distinguish between one form and another, as the 

' Lambar- vernacular does. The term ' lambardar,' for example, for 
the headman, in the North Indian and Central Provinces 
villages, at once indicates that we are speaking of a village 
of the joint type of which we shall afterwards hear, while 

'Patel.' -'Mandal' or ' Patel' at once suggests the other type of 
village prevailing in Bengal and in Southern India. 

' Patwari.' Another very common Indian revenue term is Patwdri, 
meaning the person who keeps the village accounts, and, 
above all, looks after the maps and records of rights, and 
registers changes in land proprietorship and in tenancies. 
Some books call him ' village accountant,' others ' village 
registrar,' but neither term is satisfactory. Synonymous 
with Pativdri (in Northern India and the Central Pro- 

'Karnam.' vinces) is the name 'Karnam' in the South, and ' Kul- 

' Kul- karni ' in the West. 

I am tempted to illustrate my point by one or two more 
examples, because they will serve at the outset to explain 
the most frequently used terms, which will occur at every 
page almost of our reading. 

' Raiyat.' The word ' ryot/ as it is incorrectly written, is familiar as 
a word to English readers, and they mostly suppose it to 
mean 'tenant.' So it does to a certain extent; but it 
marks also that it is 'tenant' of a sort which does not 
necessarily arise out of any contract between a landlord and 
a cultivator. 

I write it ' raiyat ' to save trouble, though in strict 
accuracy it is ' ra'iyat ' (A.), meaning ' subject, protected,' &c. 
In Bengal it has always been the custom to call the . 
village cultivators under the persons constituted landlords 

1 The village headman was 'Patel' headman is not a natural part of 
all over Central and Western India, the system. He is only one among 
' Mandal ' in Bengal, and in the the heads of families selected to re- 
North ' Muqaddam ' ; but there are present them with the Government, 
many other local names. In the and primarily to pay in the revenue 
joint-villages of Northern India the due by the body. 


in 1793, as 'raiyats'; and we shall see the term continued 
in the latest Tenancy law of Bengal. Some of these are 
modern contract-tenants, but a great many are really the 
descendants of the original clearers and settlers, who would 
have been regarded as owners of their holdings, but for 
subsequent historical circumstances and changes. 

But perhaps the commonest use of the term is to signify 
the landholder who does not claim or at any rate has long 
lost any tangible right to the ownership of anything be- 
yond his own field or fields. Such landowners exist all 
over Bombay, Madras, and indeed in other parts, where- 
ever what we shall presently describe as the 'landlord 
village' has not come into sight, owing to the growth of 
a landlord class. Technically, the position of such a land- 
holder may be differently defined in different parts. The 
Bombay Revenue Code calls him 'occupant,' and defines 
his rights. There is no Code in Madras and no definition, 
but judicial decisions have recognized the occupant who 
pays revenue as de facto proprietor of his holding. Hence 
it is very convenient to have a term like ' raiyat ' to indi- 
cate the members of village communities of a certain type ; 
and especially because in its compound form we can talk of 
a Raiyat-w&ri village, and of the Settlement being Raiyat- 'Raiyat 
war meaning that each occupant is separately assessed ^ivat- 
for his own field without responsibility for anything else, war.' 
as opposed to the Bengal ' Zamindari ' system, where one 
landlord engages for the revenue of a considerable some- 
times a very large area, including many villages ; or to the 
1 village ' system where a smaller estate very often a single 
village is settled for, and assessed at a lump sum, the body 
of co-sharers of the village or estate being in theory jointly 
and severally liable for the whole, and arranging among 
themselves, according to their own custom and constitution, 
how much of the total each has to contribute. 

Another convenient term is 'jama',' and its derivative 'Jama.' 

'Jama' is Arabic for 'total,' and means the entire revenue- 
assessment (exclusive of certain road, education and other 


cesses separately levied under special laws). To say that 
the 'jama' of village A. is Rs. 300 ' means that the Govern- 
ment Land Revenue demand on the village as a whole, is 
Rs. 300 each year. Or in a ' raiyatwdri ' settlement it would 
be the 'jama ' of the single field or survey number, 'No. 703 
is 1 6 Rs. 8 as.' 

' Jama- ' Jamabandi ' is the account ' fixing ' or definitely record- 

bandi.' j n g fiandi) the Revenue demand (Jama). In rwiyatwdri 
provinces it has this meaning quite intact. Every year 
an account is made out showing what fields each raiyat 
has held, and what revenue (jama') he has accordingly 
become liable for. Under other systems the term has 
naturally become modified in meaning. In the North- West 
and Central Provinces, for example, it has come to mean the 
list of the tenants and their rents. In the Panjab it has 
come to mean a complete record of right, a list showing con- 
cisely every holder of land, whether co-sharing proprietor 
or tenant cultivating (under a co-sharer or under the whole 
body jointly), and the payment, whether revenue or rent, 
due from each. 

I do not think that terms like these gain anything by 
attempted translations or equivalents, and I have described 
the meaning at some length, with the double object of 
justifying my retaining the original words, and also, at 
the same time, familiarizing the reader with the words. If 
he will make himself at home with the terms (headman) 
' lambardar ' and ' patel ' ; with ' raiyat,' ' jama' ' and ' jama- 
bandi,' he will have taken a useful step forward. 

10. Connection of the Land-Revenue Administration 
^vith other branches. 

One other topic demands perhaps a few words of ex- 
planation : why is it that the systems of Land-Revenue 
Administration are of so much importance in India, that 
everybody who aims at understanding the Administration 
generally, must understand this first 1 

The present book had its origin in a desire to bring a class 

CHAP. I.] 


of public officers those who have the care of the State 
Forests in India into closer contact with the civil admin- 
istration ; and it was felt that to let them understand the 
land system was the best way to begin. 

But for every other class of public officer, and for the 
economist who interests himself in the welfare of India, the 
comprehension of the broad features of land-revenue ad- 
ministration is hardly less necessary, if the reasons are less 
direct or less easily stated 1 . 

The State derives its principal revenue from the land : it 
has done so at all times, and the people are accustomed to pay 
it : it is with them the very nature of things. The collection, 
when once the assessment is arranged for a term of years, 
is effected without inquisitorial proceedings and without 
trouble or extortion. The population is so largely agricul- 
tural, and the different classes so wedded to custom, that 
the speculative administrator who should conceive the idea 
of getting rid of the land-revenue would soon find himself 
in a position of difficulty which language could hardly do 
justice to. The ' land-tax ' in England is only one item, and 
not a very large one, among a host of other taxes ; it falls 
on a small class. In India the land-revenue is a totally 
different thing. With the necessity for fairly adjusting the 
amount of revenue which each class of land has to pay, 
comes the necessity of thoroughly understanding the 
agricultural conditions of the country, the caste of the 
people as it affects their cultivating capacity, the modes of 
holding land, the interests each class has in the land, and 

1 There are, indeed, in the case 
of forest officers, special reasons for 
requiring the study. Besides re- 
garding a ' forest ' as an organic 
whole an arrangement of nature 
destined to fulfil certain objects 
a forest may be looked on as a piece 
of property of a particular kind ; 
and when it is so regarded we find 
it subject to peculiar requirements 
for its protection. Eights of various 
kinds are claimed and exercised in 
a manner which does not happen 

in other properties, and hence the 
delimitation of forest boundaries 
and the definition of vague rights 
and interests are matters of peculiar 
importance. In attempting either, 
the forest officer is sure to be brought 
into contact with Land Revenue 
maps, records and officials of the 
neighbouring lands, and he must 
understand them all at least in a 
general way to deal with them 


on what classes, and to what extent on each respectively, 
the revenue burden is to fall. Considering what a large 
portion of the total population gets its living wholly or in 
part from the land, it is obvious that the determination of 
landed rights and the record of everything which concerns 
the agricultural and social habits of the people is an 
immense business ; consequently a knowledge of the 
land administration and of the records it requires and the 
procedure it employs, is, in fact, a knowledge of the largest 
class of the population and of the conditions under which 
it lives. 

And as the collection of the land-revenue, and the 
management of all the affairs that are connected with 
the maintenance of the land-holders in prosperity, demand 
a subdivision of the entire country into districts and minor 
official charges, this subdivision and the hierarchy of officers 
which it entails, naturally becomes the basis of the entire 
administrative system. Considerations connected with 
it find their way into every department, the Post-office, 
the Irrigation department, the Public Works and many 
others. Nor is the territory organized and officers ap- 
pointed to the charge of each local area, merely with a 
view to collecting fixed sums of revenue at fixed dates. 
The administration has to take a sort of paternal or 
'lord of the manor' interest in the whole range of 
agricultural conditions. It is on this account that the 
Government is sometimes represented as the ' universal 
landlord.' The term, it is true, is used with some reference 
to the fact that the Government has the right over all 
waste and unoccupied land (as will be explained in the 
sequel), and that to secure its revenue it holds in a sort of 
hypothecation the ultimate right over every acre. But 
there is more than that. In order that the revenue may 
not be reduced below what a prosperous country should 
yield, the State officers among whom the District officer 
or Collector vested with magisterial powers, is the most 
prominent have continually to watch the state of the 
country. They have to take note of the approach of famine, 


and by suspending or even remitting the revenue in due 
time, prevent any undue strain being laid on the people ; 
they have to watch the state of the crops, the failure of rain, 
the occurrence of floods, locusts and blight, the spread of 
cattle-disease, all of which may affect the revenue-paying 
capacity of the land. They have to repress crime and other 
sources of social disturbance, which demoralize and tend 
to pauperize the people; to consider how estates may 
be improved and protected against famine, by studying 
the requirements of the district in respect of communica- 
tions which improve the market, of canals which render 
the waste cultivable, of drainage and embankment works 
and other improvements. Local Acts empower the Col- 
lector to distribute advances from the Treasury to enable 
the agriculturist to buy stock and to sink wells and 
undertake individual and local improvements ; and this 
duty requires intimate knowledge of the land. 

Even education is not unconnected with the land system. 
Village schools and the dissemination of agricultural know- 
ledge are matters which indirectly or perhaps I should 
say directly affect the welfare of the villages, and thus 
affect their power to bear up against calamity and pay with 
ease instead of with pressure the demands of the State. 

Every officer of every department will in some way or 
at some time be brought into communication with the 
Collector, his records and his subordinate officials. 

The Police-officer has to deal with the village headmen 
and rural notables, who, as land-holders, have by law 
certain duties laid on them in connection with the re- 
pression and discovery of crime. The details of offences, 
and especially cattle thefts, demand a knowledge of local 
land customs and agricultural habits to make them intel- 
ligible. The Canal Officer can neither assess water-rates nor 
distribute the water without some acquaintance with the 
land system. Even the Commandant of a regiment is 
thrown into contact with the local Revenue officer, the 
rural deputy of the Collector, for the supplies and the carts 
and camels he needs on the march. In fact, I cannot think 


of any public servant who will not be the better for a 
general idea of the Land System, while for many such 
knowledge is absolutely indispensable. 

And it also follows, almost without saying, that any one 
who aims at understanding India, its people and its require- 
ments, and who would gauge at their real value the outcry 
of half-educated newspaper writers and students of our col- 
leges at the great capitals, and who would understand where 
there is really a reform to be wisely introduced, and where 
there is mere clamour and the expression of a natural dis- 
content and aspiration that does not know really what it 
wants, or what is best for it, it follows that for him, at least 
a general idea of the land-system and of the land-tenures 
cannot fail to be of primary value and importance. 

I think I have now discussed all the purely preliminary 
questions that arise ; so, after devoting a chapter to a brief 
history of the Provinces into which British India is divided 
describing how they came to be, and on what legal basis 
they are constituted we may proceed to a general account 
of the land-tenures and landholdiug customs of the 
several provinces, especially noting the factors which went 
to their making and shaping : after this will follow an 
equally general account of the different systems under 
which the Land-Kevenue is assessed and collected, and the 
administration carried on. 

These chapters are especially designed for the home reader 
and the non-official student, while I hope they will serve 
as a useful and introductory study to all classes. 

I only add that, as in the course of our study we re- 
peatedly mention ' Acts ' of the Legislature of India and of 
the Local Government's ' Eegulations,' and Acts of Parlia- 
ment relating to India, I have thought that it would tend 
to completeness to interpolate a short chapter on the 
Indian Legislatures and their powers. Thus the first 
or ' General ' volume, looks at the subject as a whole, 
and is intended to prepare the way for the volumes 
which follow and which deal in more detail with the 
separate provinces seriatim. It will be observed that 


each provincial account is divided into chapters, the first 
being introductory and calling attention to any special 
historical or local features that affect the administration ; 
the next describes the process of ' Settlement/ i.e. assess- 
ing the Land Eevenue ; the next deals with land-tenures 
and customs ; and the last with the classes of re venue- officers 
and the powers they exercise, and with the principal heads 
of business which they daily transact in camp or in the 
Collector's office 1 connected with the collection of the 
revenue, the realization of arrears, the hearing of petitions 
and cases relating to revenue business, and to the affairs 
of the estates generally as far as those are of public 

1 In India a public office in the erry,' an Anglicized form of the 
provinces is always called ' Kutch- Hindi ' Kachhahri.' 



i. Introductory. 

BKITISH INDIA is divided into Provinces, each under a 
separate local government, and each having its own special 
laws relating to Land-Revenue. It will be well, therefore, 
to understand how these provinces came into separate 
existence for the purposes of administrative government. 
The limits of my work, however, preclude me from entering 
on anything like a historical sketch of the progress of 
those great and unforeseen events which led to so vast 
a territory being brought under British rule: for such 
information the standard Histories of India must be con- 
sulted. I must plunge at once in medias res, only pausing 
briefly to remind the reader that the history of the British 
rule in India is the history of a trading Company, which 
in the course of events was entrusted with the government 
of the country until 1858, when its delegated powers being 
resumed, the Crown undertook the direct administration 
by its own officers. 

2. The Presidencies. 

So long as the East India Company 1 was, as a body, 
chiefly concerned with trade, the charters granted to it 

1 The title ' East India Company ' (A.D. 1833). Section in says that 
originated with the Act of Parlia- the Company may be described as 
ment 3 and 4 Wm. IV, cap. 85 the ' East India Company.' At first 



by the Crown (from the first memorable grant of December 
3ist, A.D. 1600, onwards) related, as might be expected, 
chiefly to trading interests. 

The first settlements at Surat (A.D. 1613), on the 
Coromandel Coast, at Fort St. George (A.D. 1640), and at 
Fort William in Bengal (A.D. 1698) were mere 'factories' 
for trading purposes l . These factories then became ' settle- 
ments,' which were governed internally each by a ' President 
and Board.' In the course of time, out-stations or dependent 
factories grew up under the shelter of the parent, and then 
the original factory was spoken of as the ' Presidency town,' 
or centre of the territory where the President resided. In 
this way, what we now call 'the three Presidencies 2 ,' 
Bengal, Madras, and Bombay, came into existence. 

In 1773 the government of the Presidency of Fort 
William was entrusted to a Governor and Council of four 
members. The style of the ' Governor ' was changed to 
' Governor-General,' and as such he had a certain control 
over the other two Presidencies, particularly as regards 
the declaration of war and concluding peace. This was 
provided by the Act (13 Geo. Ill, cap. 63) known as the 
'Regulating Act.' It was not till twenty years after 
(33 Geo. Ill, cap. 52) that the government of Bombay and 
Madras, respectively, was formally vested in a Governor 
with three Councillors 3 . 

the Company was called 'the Go- 
vernor and Company of Merchants 
trading to the East Indies.' Then a 
rival Company was formed, called 
c the English Company trading to 
the East Indies.' These two Com- 
panies were afterwards united, and, 
by the Act of Queen Anne (6 Anne, 
cap. 17, Sec. 13), the style became 
' the United Company of Merchants 
of England trading to the East 
Indies.' Last of all, the Act of 
William IV, first quoted, legalized 
the formal use of the designation 
ever since in use. It is, however, 
frequently used in the titles of 
Statutes prior to this, e. g. 9 Anne, 
cap. 7 ; 10 Geo. Ill, cap. 47 ; 13 
Geo. Ill, cap. 63. 

1 And, indeed, they were not 
' possessions,' but the traders were 
the tenants of the Mughal Emperor. 
The first actual possession was the 
Island of Bombay, ceded by Portu- 
gal, in 1661, to Charles II, as part 
of the marriage dowry of the Infanta. 
This island was granted to the Com- 
pany in 1669. 

2 The use of this term has never, 
even in Acts of Parliament, been 
precise : sometimes it is meant to 
signify the form of government, 
sometimes the place which was the 
seat of that government ; at other 
times it meant the territories under 
such government. 

3 The term ' Governor or President,' 
however, begins to appear before 


These territorial divisions of India, called Presidencies, 
could not be authoritatively defined from the first; they 
gradually grew up under the effect of circumstances. 

Territories that were conquered or ceded to the Company 
were, naturally enough, in the first instance attached to 
the Presidency whose forces had subdued them, or whose 
Government had negotiated their cession. Thus, for 
instance, Bengal, Bihar, and (old) Orissa, granted in 1765, 
went to Fort William; the territory acquired from the 
Nawab of the Carnatic (1801), the Ceded districts (1800) 
and the acquisitions from Mysore (Maisur) 1792-99, went 
to Fort St. George ; and the Bombay territories, taken in 
1803-1818 from the Maratha King or Peshwa, to Bombay ; 
and so on. 

No one could foresee what course events would take ; 
and when it is recollected under what very different cir- 
cumstances, at what different dates, and under what 
unexpected conditions, province after province was added 
to the government of the Company, it is not surprising 
that the Legislature should not, ab initio, have hit upon 
a convenient and uniform procedure, which would enable 
all acquisitions of territory to be added on to one or other 
of the existing centres of Government in a systematic 

that ; e. g. in Section'sg of the Eegu- pany was never sovereign, its power 
lating Act itself; and in 26 Geo. Ill, was always derivative. In 1813 
cap. 57. (50 Geo. Ill, c. 155) an express re- 
It would be beyond the scope of serration is made of the 'undoubted 
this work to go into any detail about sovereignty of the Crown over the 
the powers of the E. I. C. : it may be territorial acquisitions of the Corn- 
useful to state so much, that the Act pany ' ; and the Statutes from 1833 
of 1773 was the first in which the onwards speak of the Company as 
new position of the Company as trustee for the Crown as regards its 
territorial potentate seems to have possessions, its rights and its powers, 
been fully realized. After this, See also Field, 348, p. 632, where 
further statutes were usually passed the learned author discusses the 
about every twenty years, when the question at what time the Company 
charters came up for reconsider- can be held to have begun to act as 
ation, with the general result, as a Government (by delegation for 
Mr. J. S. Cotton puts it, 'of tighten- the Crown). For a long time the 
ing the authority of Parliament and Company, even after it had acquired 
of transforming the Company itself territory, neither desired nor exer- 
from a trading corporation into an cised sovereign rights. But the 
administrative machine' (Statement treaties of 1801, 1803, and 1805 
of Moral and Material Progress, Parl. clearly show that by that time such 
Blue-Book, 1882-3, P- 3)- The Com- rights were exercised. 


manner. The student will not therefore be surprised to 
find that the legislative provisions for the formation and 
government of the provinces of India are not contained 
in one law, but were developed gradually by successive 
Acts, each of which corrected the errors, or enlarged the 
provisions, of the former ones. 

3. Method of dealing with new Territories. 

Until quite a late date (as will be seen hereafter) no 
Statute gave any power to provide for any new territory, 
otherwise than by attaching it to one or other of the three 
historical Presidencies. But as a matter of fact, large 
areas of country, when conquered or ceded to the British 
by treaty, were not definitely attached to any Presidency ; 
at any rate, it was doubtful whether they were intended 
to be so or not. This was especially the case with the 
Bengal Presidency ; it became in fact difficult to say with 
precision what were the exact limits of that Presidency, 
or whether such and such a district was in it or not ; and 
this afterwards gave rise to questions as to whether par- 
ticular laws were in force or not. 

The Act 39 and 40 Geo. Ill, cap. 79 (A.D. 1800), was 
the first distinctly to empower * the Court of Directors in 
England, to determine what places should be subject to 
either Presidency, and set the example by declaring the 
districts forming the province of Benares (ceded in 1775) to 
be formally ' annexed ' to the Bengal Presidency. 

4. List of Provinces. 

At this point, and before describing the further legis- 
lative enactments relating to the constitution of provinces, 
it will be well to give a list of the existing provinces in 
British India, and to describe how they were constituted : 
then we shall be in a better position to understand the 
legal enactments which settle their territorial constitution 
and government. 

1 There are Acts of 1773 and 1793 but the Act of 1800 is the first which 
which make allusion to the subject, directly deals with it. 

VOL. I. D 







(Fort St. 
N.W. Pro- 


Port Blair. 
The Resi- 
dency, Hy- 

The student will clearly understand 

I. That originally there were certain centres of trade 
managed by a President and Council, and that in the first 
instance such territories as were acquired, were attached 
to one or other of these three centres called ' Presidencies.' 
And it appears to have been supposed that they would 
embrace all the British territories in India. But this after- 
wards proved impossible. 

II. That the Presidencies of Bengal, of Madras and 
Bombay, do not cover the whole of British India, and that 
the following list summarizes the whole. The capitals or 
head-quarters are noted in the margin. 

(1) Presidency of Bengal. (Lieutenant-Governor and 
Council.) This at first included ' Benares province ' (1775- 
1800) and the 'North-Western Provinces' (1801-3). 

(2) Presidency of Madras. (Governor and Council.) 

(3) Presidency of Bombay. (Governor and Council.) 
(Aden belongs to this Presidency.) 

(4) The North-Western Provinces and Oudh. The former 
was separated from Bengal in 1 834. Oudh was annexed in 
1856, and placed under a Chief Commissioner. In 1877 the 
Provinces were amalgamated, so that the official title of 
the head of the administration is ' Lieutenant-Governor 
and Chief Commissioner.' A Legislative Council was 
formed in 1886. 

(5) The Panjab. (Lieutenant-Governor, no Council.) 

(6) The Central Provinces. (Chief Commissioner.) 

(7) Ajmer and Merwara. (Chief Commissioner.) 

(8) Assam. (Chief Commissioner ; separated from Bengal 
in 1874.) 

(9) Coorg. (Chief Commissioner.) 

(10) Burma. (Chief Commissioner. Lower Burma ac- 
quired 1824-1852, Upper Burma, 1885.) 

(n) The Andaman Islands. (Chief Commissioner.) 
(12) The Hyderabad (Haidarabad) assigned districts or 
Berar, governed by the Viceroy (through the Resident of 
Hyderabad). This constitutes a special territory as will be 


5. Notice of their Acquisition. 

Taking these provinces in the order stated, we will now 
give the essential particulars regarding each, seriatim. 

And this seems the place to introduce and explain a 
general map of India, which shows at a glance when the 
various territories were acquired. The States which are 
still more or less independent that is, managing their own 
affairs under a native administration, but acknowledging 
the suzerainty of the British Crown are left uncoloured in 
the map. 

I will only explain that the number of colours being 
limited, I could only adopt one for each period of years, 
not one for every separate war or treaty by which territory 
was acquired. Thus in Madras in 1800-1 territory was 
acquired by assignments which had nothing whatever to 
do with the acquisition of the ' Ceded Districts ' of the 
North- West Provinces (1801), though the colour is the 
same. On the other hand, in 1 803, the Maratha treaty gave 
us territory in various parts of India viz. near Delhi, in 
Bombay, and in Orissa L . 

6. Bengal and the North-West Provinces. 

The Presidency of Bengal was the one which first necessi- 
tated legal steps with a view to providing for the distribu- 
tion of territory. Madras never received any territory that 
was not naturally and conveniently attached to it. Bom- 
bay was also compact, and though Sindh (annexed by war 
in 1843) was added to it as an outlying province, it was a 
natural addition, as in 1843 the Panjab was foreign terri- 

1 It is curious to observe from thought to secure the sea-board and 

this map, first, that territory was to prevent the hostile action of cer- 

not eagerly but most reluctantly tain States. I do not mean to de- 

acquired. Certain powers that fend every acquisition of territory 

continued to resist, e. g. Mysore, were in detail, but a study of such a map 

not deprived of their provinces at will certainly exculpate the rulers 

once but at first of only such dis- of past days from many vague 

tricts as were absolutely needed for charges of wantonness. A large 

security. It will also be seen that area, it will be observed, has come 

the annexations were not hap- to us by escheat on failure of heirs, 
hazard, but arranged with fore- 

D 2, 


tory and Sindh was nearer to Bombay than to any other 
centre 1 . 

It was otherwise with Bengal. The addition of Benares 
in 1775 by itself would not have been a difficulty, and even 
the annexation of the modern Orissa (Cuttack (Katak) 
Balasur and Puri) in 1803 was not inconvenient from an 
administrative point of view. But the first Burmese war, 
in 1824, gave Assam, Arrakan, and Tennasserim ; and the 
additions in 1801-3 to the North- West 2 , would have ex- 
tended the Presidency beyond all reasonable limits. 

The subject of territorial division was accordingly again 

3 and 4 dealt with in the year 1833 (3 and 4 Will. IV, cap. 85). 

cap. 85, ' This Act proposed to divide the Presidency into two parts, 

sec. 38. ^0 be called ' the Presidency of Fort William in Bengal,' 

and the ' Presidency of Agra V 

It was to be determined locally what territories should 
be allotted to each. 

7. The first Lieutenant-Governorship (North-West 

Though a ' Governor of Agra' was actually appointed 4 , 
the scheme was early abandoned, and instead of forming a 
new Presidency, the ' North-West Provinces ' were separated 
from the rest of Bengal and placed under a Lieutenant- 
Governor. This was ordered in 1836, and was legalized by 
the 5 and 6 Will. IV, cap. 52 (1835), which suspended the 

1 Aden, the military station at the Maratha War (which began in 
the entrance to the Red Sea, was 1803) : these were Etawa, Main- 
placed under the Governor of Bom- puri, Aligarh, Bulandshahr, Meerut 
bay for the same reason. (Mirath) , Muzaffarnagar, Saharan- 

2 These large additions in the pur, Agra, Muttra (Mathura), and 
north-west (besides the Benares Delhi (the latter including the dis- 
territory above alluded to) con- tricts on the right bank of the 
sisted of the districts ceded in 1801 Jamn&, now in the Panjab) ; also 
by the Nawab of Oudh, and com- Banda and parts of Bundelkhand. 
prised the country now known as 3 This attempt to attach the his- 
the districts of Allahabad, Fatih- toric reminiscences involved in the 
pur, Cawnpore (Kahnpur), part of term 'Presidency' to Agra, which 
'Azimgarh, Gorakhpur, Bareli, Mu- had never known the system of 
radabad, Bijnaur, Badaon, and ' President and Board,' is curious. 
Shahjahanpur. Soon after, a subor- * See Notification (in the Politi- 
dinate of the Nawab's ceded Fa- cal Department) of the 1 4th Novem- 
rukhabad ; and not long after ber, 1834. 

followed the districts conquered in 


previous enactment ordering the creation of two presiden- 
cies, and rendered valid the appointment of the Lieutenant- 
Governor. Bengal was thus partly relieved and reduced 
to more reasonable dimensions. 

8. The Government of Bengal. 

But still there was another difficulty. There was no 
separate Governor or Lieutenant-Go vernor for Bengal. 
The Governor-General of India was ex-offi-cio Governor of 
Bengal ; that is to say, he had to do the work of a local 
Governor in addition to his functions as Go vernor- General 
with supreme control over all Governments. It is true 
that the Governor-General was empowered to appoint a 
Deputy-Governor of Bengal, but that did not relieve him of 
the direct responsibility. Accordingly, the Statute 16 and 
17 Viet., cap. 95 (1853), authorized the appointment of a 
separate Governor of Bengal, or (until such an officer should 
be appointed) a Lieutenant-Governor. This Act also looks 
back on the arrangements made for the North- West Pro- 
vinces (just described), and again confirms them, going on 
to say that the Lieutenant-Governorship of Bengal was to 
consist of such part of the territories of the Presidency as 
for the time being was not under the new Lieutenant- 
Governorship of the North- West Provinces. 

A Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal was accordingly ap- 
pointed under this Act 1 . 

& o. Unattached Provinces. 


With this relief, the management of Assam, though the 
province was early exempted from the Regulation Law of 
Bengal, presented no difficulty; and even the Burma dis- 
tricts did not call for any special measures till several 
years later. 

1 See Resolution, Home Depart- Governor of Bengal extends to all 

ment, No. 415, dated 28th April, matters relating to civil adminis- 

1854. And by order of the Govern- tration heretofore under the author- 

ment of India, a6th January, 1855, ity of the Governor of Bengal.' 
' the authority of the Lieutenant- 


So far then as the territory actually attached to the 
Bengal Presidency is concerned, the matter was settled. 
But before long other territories also were acquired, and 
they were so large and important, that some further pro- 
vision for their government was needed; for on annexa- 
tion they were not formally attached to either of the 
existing Presidencies. Such were the 'Saugor and Ner- 
budda' (Sagar and Narbada) territories (ceded after the 
Maratha War of 1817-18), Coorg (Kodagu) 1834, Nagpur 
(1854), the Panjab (1849), and Pegu (1852). How were 
these to be provided for 1 ? 

It is probable that at first the case was not thoroughly 
understood ; at all events, the only additional provision 
made by the law of 1853, was a general power to create 
one other Presidency besides those existing, and if it was 
not desired to make a ' Presidency ' then to appoint a 
Lieutenant-Governor of the territories to be provided for. 

But a glance at the list of provinces or districts just 
given as 'unattached,' and a thought as to their geo- 
graphical position, will show that this provision was not 
sufficient ; the ' unattached ' provinces were too far apart 
to make it possible to provide for them by uniting them 
under one new ' Presidency.' 

What are now called 'The Central Provinces ' were mainly 
formed by the cession of the ' Saugor and Nerbudda ' 
(Sagar and Narbada) territories in 1817-18 and by the 
escheat of the territory of the Bhonsla family (one of the 
members of the Maratha Confederacy) in 1 854 ; and they 
were far removed from the older territories. The second 
Burmese war added the rest of Lower Burma, across the 
Bay of Bengal. The important acquisition of the Panjab 
was in the extreme north-west of India. 

None of these provinces either from their geographical 
position or owing to the requirements of their administra- 
tion, or both could be attached to either of the Presiden- 
cies ; nor would the Lieutenant-Governorship of the North- 

1 Sindh, annexed in 1843, na d was n t annexed till afterwards 
been attached to Bombay. Oudh (1856). 




West Provinces bear extension so as to include any of 

The Act of 1853, above alluded to, by which the Lieu- 
tenant-Governorship of Bengal was constituted, had em- 
powered the Government to create one other ' Presidency ' 
besides those existing, or, if that was not desired, then to 
appoint a Lieutenant- Governor for the territories in question. 
This provision was held to authorize the appointment of 
a Lieutenant-Governor for the Panjab, but it was insuffi- 
cient to meet the other cases. 

In the year 1854 the deficiency was supplied. By the 
17 and 18 Viet., cap. 77, provision was made for the 
government of such territories or parts of territories as 
' it might not be advisable to include in any Presidency 
or Lieutenant -Governorship.' Section 3 empowers the 
Governor-General by proclamation (under Home sanction) 
to take such territories under his ' immediate authority 
and management,' or otherwise to provide for the adminis- 
tration of them. Under this Act the ' Local Administra- 
tions ' under Chief Commissioners, as they now exist, were 
constituted. As they are under the ' direct orders ' of the 
Governor-General, the Government of India is itself the 
Local Government 1 , and the Chief Commissioner consti- 
tutes a ' Local Administration ' as administering the orders 
of the Local Government. 

It would of course be inconvenient if the Governor- 
General had to exercise directly, in every one of these 
provinces, all the powers of a Local Government ; and there- 
fore, in 1867, an Indian Act (XXXII) was passed to enable 
him to relieve himself of such detailed work, by delegating 
certain of his powers as the ' Local Government ' to the 
Chief Commissioners then existing, which were those of 
Oudh, the Central Provinces, and Pritish Burma. Since 
then, this process has been further simplified by inserting 
in Section 2, clause 10 of Act I of 1868 ('The General 

1 The provinces under Lieuten- 
ant-Governors are called ' Local 
Governments,' because such pro- 
vinces, though subordinate to the 

Government of India, are not im- 
mediately under the orders of the 


Clauses Act '), a definition of the term ' Local Government.' 
In all Acts passed after 1868, when anything is provided 
to be done by a Local Government, that includes the Chief 
Commissioner of any province ; in fact, the delegation of 
the Governor-General's power as a Local Government is in 
all such cases implied by, or contained in, the legal mean- 
ing of the term Local Government 1 . Of course the term 
has this wider meaning only when the context, or some 
express provision, does not control or limit it. 

The powers of the Governor-General were further en- 
larged by the 46th section of the 24 and 25 Viet., cap, 67 
(' The Indian Councils Act, 1861 '). which gives him power 
to constitute new provinces and to appoint Lieutenant- 
Go vernors for them. The Act also makes provision for 
fixing the limits of every ' Presidency division, province or 
territory in India ' for the purposes of the Act ; and for 
altering those limits. 

In 1865 the 28th Viet., cap. 17, provided the power to 
apportion or re-apportion the different territories among 
the existing Governorships and Lieutenant-Governorships. 

There are also provisions of the Indian Legislature 
regarding minor divisions of territory, i. e. creating new 
districts and altering the existing boundaries of districts, 
of which it is not here necessary to speak. 

10. Notes on the Provinces Bengal Madras. 

I may now add a few particulars regarding the different 
provinces as constituted under the laws above enumerated. 
The growth of Bengal has been already indicated. Madras 
calls for no explanation ; the table at the end of the chapter 
gives the facts. 

1 The 'General Clauses Act' of shall include a Chief Commissioner. ' 

1868 defines the term 'Local Govern- In Assam, where it was not con- 

ment ' to mean, ' the person author- venient that this should take effect, 

ized by law to administer executive Acts VIII and XII of 1874 were 

government in the part of British specially enacted to regulate the 

India in which the Act containing powers of the Chief Commissioner, 
such expression shall operate, and 


ii. Bombay. 

The earliest acquisitions, leaving aside Bombay itself, 
were Surat, Bharoch, and Kaira, which were acquired partly 
from the Nawab of Surat in 1 800, partly from the Gaikwar 
of Baroda (one of the Marath^, confederacy) between 1 802 
1805. Ahmadabad was also acquired from the Gaikwar 
between 1802 and 1817. 

The Maratha war of 1803 was the cause of some of these 
cessions. The rest of the districts were variously acquired, 
but the bulk of them were annexed after the last war in 
1818. In 1822 a treaty with the Nizam of Haidarabad 
resulted in several exchanges and cessions with a view to 
simplifying boundaries and jurisdictions. The Bombay 
presidency still remains much interspersed with native 
states, and, as might be expected, occasional lapses for 
want of heirs, and some confiscations, have occurred. Thus 
the Satara district was acquired on the deposition of the 
Raja in 1837 ; and the part of Belgam that was not ceded 
in 1818 was acquired from the Raj of Kolapur in 1827. 

A treaty with Sindhia of December 12th, 1860 (also for 
the purpose of adjusting boundaries), resulted in several 
exchanges of small tracts in Poona and elsewhere. 

In 1 862, the North Kanara district, which was previously 
under Madras, was transferred to Bombay. 

12. The North -West Provinces and Oudh. 

I have already been obliged to include much of what has 
to be said of this province in my account of Bengal. It 
will only be necessary here to repeat that the province 
consists of the Benares districts which came under the 
Permanent Settlement viz. Benares (Banaras), Ballia, 
Jaunpur, Ghdzipur, and part of Mirzapur ; the ' Ceded 
districts' of 1801, already enumerated in a footnote; and 
certain districts called the ' Conquered territories,' acquired 
by treaty from the Marathas in 1803. These were Agra, 
Muttra (Mathura), Aligarh, Bulandshahr, Meerut (Mirath), 
Muzaffarnagar, and Saharanpur, as well as the Bundelkhand 


districts of Banda and Hamirpur. The remaining districts 
of this last local group, viz. Jhansi, Jalaun, and Lalitpur, 
were acquired by lapse, forfeiture, and treaty after 1840. 

The Maratha treaty of 1 803 also ceded certain territory 
on the right bank of the Jamnd river known as ' the Delhi 
territory.' In 1858 it was transferred to the Panjab, 
because at the time the mutiny at Delhi made it impossible 
to communicate with it from the North- West Provinces. 
Further particulars will be given in the next paragraph. 

The only other addition to the North- West Provinces 
was the hill and sub-montane tract taken after the Nepal 
war of 1815 (Dehra-dun, Jaunsar-Bawar, Kumaon and 
British Garhwal.) 

The North-West Provinces, as already explained, are under 
a Lieutenant-Governor, whose capital was moved to Allah- 
abad shortly after 1860. The Province is under a High 
Court and a Board of Revenue. 

OUDH was annexed in 1856, and placed under a Chief 
Commissioner. In 1877 it was amalgamated with the 
North- West Provinces, so far, that the Lieutenant-Governor 
became also the Chief Commissioner, and is the chief con- 
trolling Revenue authority l . The Board of Revenue does 
not control Oudh, nor has the High Court jurisdiction : the 
Judicial Commissioner is still the highest local Court. 

13. The Panjdb. 

The first acquisition of territory, which now forms part 
of the Panjab, resulted from Lord Lake's Maratha campaign 
and the treaty of Sarji-Anjangam (Dec. 30, 1803). This 
was the country on the right bank of the Jamna, and is 
comprised in the present districts of Delhi (Dihli), Gurgaon, 
Rohtak, Karnal, Hisar, and the Sirsa tahsil of Firozpur. 

1 The official particulars are to be the Lieutenant-Governor would ex- 
found in the Resolution, Home De- ercise as such. The assimilation 
partment (Government of India) is chiefly effected by repealing some 
No. 45, Jan. 17, 1877. In order to of the provisions (in various Acts) 
facilitate the action of Government, which require the Governor-Gene- 
Act XIV of 1878 was passed to as- ral's sanction to the Chief Com- 
similatethepowers of the Chief Com- missioner's proceedings, 
missioner of Oudh to those which 




The country was at first under the general political con- 
trol of the North-West Provinces. It was then our policy 
to make the Jamnd the frontier, and to provide for the 
districts beyond by granting them to great chiefs who 
were to receive the revenue, and be responsible for the 
administration. The plan failed ; and after some years 
under the North -West Provinces government, the events of 
the Mutiny (as already stated) compelled the transfer of 
the districts (1858) to the Panjab 1 . 

The next important occurrence was the Protection treaty 
of 1809 with the chiefs on this side (i. e. the side nearest 
the British capital) of the Sutlej. The chiefs became 
alarmed by the incursions of Ranjit Singh, who indeed in 
1806 advanced as far as the British cantonment at Karnal. 

The greater chiefs have since been confirmed as feudatory 
princes (Faridkot, Patiala, Jind, Nabha, and the minor 
states of Maldr-Kotla and Kalsia), the others became 

1 One of the above-named districts 
Karnal as it now is, does not 
wholly consist of territory taken in 
1803 ; other neighbouring lands 
lapsed to the Government, and there 
were several changes. First, there 
were two districts, Karnal and 
Thanesar, and then, on the abolition 
of the latter, there was a remodel- 
ling of the district of Karnal. 

The districts named in the text are 
commonly called the ' Delhi terri- 
tory,' and were equally commonly, 
but erroneously, supposed to be the 
territory spoken of in the Regula- 
tions of 1803-5 which provided for the 
administration of the ' Conquered 
districts.' The territory therein de- 
clared exempt from the Regulations 
was only the country round the city of 
Delhi, including the 'taiyul' villages 
lands the income of which went 
to the privy purse of the titular 
king of Delhi, and certain other 
tracts, the revenues of which were assigned 
for the expenses of the Court. Certainly 
Karnal as it then was, and Hisar, 
Rohtak, &c., though called the Delhi 
territory, were never assigned for the 
support of the king of Delhi. The 
fact is that the Regulations ignored 
the country on the right bank of 
the Jamna. Reg. VIII of 1805 pro- 

fesses to provide for the whole of the 
conquered territories : but by the 
direction to form them into districts, 
and then specifying the law applic- 
able to those districts, the country we 
are speaking of is virtually excluded, 
because geographically it never was 
or could be included in any of the five 
districts prescribed by the Regula- 
tion. Legally then the Regulation 
law generally applied, but practically 
there was no one to administer it, 
as most of the territory had been 
granted to native chiefs under poli- 
tical control only. Karnal was (for 
example) granted to the Mandal 
family, who still hold the pargana 
of Karnal. As a whole, the plan 
failed, and some of the chiefs re- 
signed their grants. Gradually 
these districts came under British 
Government, and the grantees 
(such of them as remained) became 
great private estate holders under 
the Government. In 1832, Reg. V 
was passed to declare the laws in 
force, and British officers made the 
Revenue Settlements. This Regula- 
tion was repealed in 1858 (Act 
XXXVIII), and since then the dis- 
tricts have been under the Panjab, 
and of course subject to the ordinary 
Panjab law. 


'jagirdars' or smaller chiefs to whom the revenue of the 
territory was granted. Some of the states have since lapsed 
from failure of heirs, e.g. part of Jind in 1834, Kaithal 
(now part of Karnal district) in 1843, and Thanesar in 
I85O 1 . In 1845 the Ladwa state was forfeited for 
rebellion, and now forms part of Karnal district. 

In this part of the country there have naturally been 
minor exchanges of villages and adjustments of boundary 
which it is not necessary to detail. 

Things so remained till Ranjit Singh's death, and some 
years afterwards, when the Darbar (or Sikh Court) was 
foolishly moved to interfere on the other side of the Sutlej ; 
this led to the first Sikh war, and the annexation of the 
cis-Sutlej districts, Firozpur, Ludiana, Ambdla 2 , as well 
as (for security) the districts of Jalandhar, Hushyarpur, 
and Kangra, which were trans-Sutlej, or between the Sutlej 
and the Bias Rivers. A British Resident was appointed to 
aid the Darbar in administering the Panjab to the north- 
west of the Bias River; but a second Sikh war broke 
out, and, in 1 849, Lord Dalhousie (very reluctantly) annexed 
the whole. 

The province was not attached to any presidency, 
but simply annexed to the British dominion ; hence 

1 Thanesar was at first formed or great over-lord of the whole, 

into a separate district, but was 2 Ambala was only partly an- 

afterwards divided between Am- nexed : most of it is made up of 

bala and Karnal districts. territory which lapsed to Govern- 

The history of the Sikhs is a very ment by failure of heirs. A cer- 

interesting one, but I cannot, of tain number of the cis-Sutlej chiefs 

course, go into it. By the Treaty of intrigued with the Sikhs before the 

1809, the states cis-Sutlej were pro- war. Ladwa was confiscated on 

tected from being swallowed up by this account, and on the conclusion 

the power of Ranjit Singh. At first, of the war. safety was secured by 

the reader will remember, a number acknowledging sovereign powers 

of Sikh chiefs, with their followers, only to the greater (and thoroughly 

each conquering and holding what loyal i chiefs, Patiala, Jind, and 

territory he could (as his taluqa or Nabha. of the Phulkian misl, while 

state), formed a number of groups sovereign powers were withdrawn 

called ' misl,' confederated together, from the petty territories. It was 

till Raja Mahan Singh of the Sukr- obviously impossible long to tolerate, 

chakya misl began to take the lead among the British districts, a series 

and reduce the others to subjection. of semi-independent kingdoms, each 

The plan was consummated by the the size of half a county, and at bitter 

force and genius of his son Ranjit enmity one with the other. 
Singh, who became the ' Maharaja ' 


the Regulations did not apply. A despatch (dated 3ist 
March, 1849) from the Governor-General, gave direc- 
tions as to the form and method of administration, and 
appointed a ' Board of Administration ' consisting of three 
members. By the Government of India, Notif. No. 660, 
dated 4th February, 1853, a single Chief Commissioner was 
substituted. (Differences of opinion arose in the Board, 
and, as might be expected, it was found that the responsible 
executive functions in a province must be in a single hand.) 
The Chief Commissioner was assisted by a Financial Com- 
missioner and a Judicial Commissioner as the chief Revenue 
and Judicial authorities under Government. Lastly, by 
Notification No. i, dated ist January, 1 859 (under the 16 and 
17 Viet., cap. 95) the Governor-General 'proclaimed that a 
separate Lieutenant-Governorship for the territories on the 
extreme northern frontier of Her Majesty's Indian Empire 
shall be established, and that the Panjab and the tracts 
commonly called the trans-Sutlej States, the cis-Sutlej 
States, and the Delhi territory, shall be the jurisdiction of 
the Lieutenant-Governor.' These limits are maintained to 
the present day. As they include more than the Panjab 
proper, the official style is 'Lieutenant-Governor of the 
Panjab and its dependencies/ The Chief Court (virtually 
a High Court, but not by Royal Charter) has become the chief 
judicial controlling authority (Act IV of 1866), and there 
are now two Financial Commissioners for Revenue control. 

14. The Central Provinces. 

It will be observed that there are certain groups which 
will facilitate the remembrance of the main parts (i) 
Nimdr; (2) the districts adjoining the Tapti and Narbada 
rivers in the North ; (3) the Central districts ; (4) Sambalpur ; 
and (5) the small tract in the south on the Godavari 

(i) The first portions of Nimar were acquired after the 
Maratha war from Sindhia in 1818. But the rest of the 
district was made over to our management, the northern 


part in 1820-25, the southern (adjoining the Tapti) in 
1844. The sovereignty of both was ceded in 1860. 

(2) Of the Northern districts, Baitul, Seoni, Jabalpur 1 , 
and Mandla were ceded after the war, in 1818, so was most 
of Narsinghpur, and Hoshangabad. A few parganas of 
Narsinghpur north of the Tapti were first made over to 
British management (1820-5) and ceded in 1860, and the 
southern part of Hoshangabad (Harda-Handia) was made 
over in 1844, and ceded in 1860. The two northern 
districts, Sagar and Damoh, were acquired piecemeal ; por- 
tions of both were acquired in 1818 from the Bhonsla 
Marathas of Nagpur, and from the Peshwa ; and the rest, 
having been made over for management in 1820-5, was 
ceded in [86o 2 . One pargana (Shahgarh) in Sagar was 
forfeited for rebellion in 1 857. 

(3) The central districts, escheated for want of heirs in 
1854. The same was the case with Sambalpur (4) in 1849. 

Lastly, the tract now called the Sironcha tahsil of the 
Chanda district, along the Godavari, was ceded by the 
Nizam (in exchange for other lands) in 1860. 

By Resolution (Foreign Department, No. 9 of 2nd No- 
vember, 1861) the Chief Commissionership of the Central 
Provinces was constituted. The notification contains a 
long history of the administration of these provinces. It 
recites that Nagpur had been under a Commissioner as 
Agent for the Governor-General. The Sagar and Narbada 
districts had at various times been transferred from one 
Government to another. They were originally under the 
Supreme Government ; subsequently they were placed 
under the Lieutenant-Governor of the North- West Pro- 
vinces. Again, in 1842, the general control of them was 
vested in a Commissioner and Governor-General's Agent, 
in direct communication with the Supreme Government, 
while the supervision of fiscal and judicial affairs re- 

1 The north-east pargana of were further altered by some 
Jabalpur formed a separate state transfers from British territory in 
(Bijragogarh), which was forfeited Bundelkhand, but that was an ad- 
for mutiny in 1857. ministrative transfer not a territo- 

2 Both Sagar and Damoh districts rial acquisition. 


inained with the Sudder Board and Sudder Court 
of the North-West Provinces respectively. After this, 
the general jurisdiction was again transferred to the 
Lieutenant-Governor of the North- West Provinces, and 
so remained till the notification issued in 1861. Nimar 
had been managed chiefly as an ' assigned district ' till its 
cession as a whole in 1860. Sambalpur was added to the 
Central Provinces in 1862, Nimar in 1864, and a small 
estate called Bijragogarh in 1865. The fact that some 
tracts in Nagpur were ceded in 1817 does not place Nagpur 
first in the list of acquisitions. The province as a whole 
had been managed since the defeatrof Appa Sahib in 1817, 
on behalf of the minor Bhonsla Raja (Raghuji III). He 
succeeded to the estates in 1830, but died without heirs in 
1853, and the province lapsed to the British Government. 

15. Ajmer and Merwdra. 

Ajmer was ceded by treaty in 1818 and Merwara also, 
but the latter district was in so disturbed a state that it 
had to be restored to order by military occupation. Such 
details as are necessary will best find a place in the chapter 
specially devoted to an account of this province. The whole 
was constituted a Chief Commissionership under the autho- 
rity of the 17 and 18 Viet., cap. 77, sec. 3 J . The Governor- 
General's Agent for the Rajputana States is ex officio Chief 

Previously the province had been under the North- 
West Provinces Government, and it was owing to that 
fact that the first regular settlement was made on the 
system of village settlements prevalent in those provinces. 

1 6. Assam. 

This province was separated from Bengal and placed 
under a Chief Commissioner under the provisions of the 
Act of 1854 (17 and 18 Viet., cap. 77). As it was not de- 
sirable to give the Chief Commissioner, as such, all the 

1 Notification (Foreign Department), No. 1007, dated 26th May, 1871. 


powers which had been exercised by the Government of 
Bengal, special acts were passed dealing with the subject of 
powers. The detail of this will be more appropriately given 
in the chapter devoted to Assam. 

Assam includes the Assam valley districts, acquired in 
1824, the Hill districts (Garo Hills, Khasi and Jaintya Hills, 
&c.), and the older districts of Goalpard, Sylhet (properly 
Silhatt or Srihatta), and Kachar l . 

17. Coorg. 

The little province of Coorg (Kodagu) was annexed in 
1834 owing to the continued misgovernment of its Raja 2 . 
It is a hill country along the top of the Western Ghat 
range ; only a tract to the north and a strip to the east is 
' below Ghat.' Its people and its tenures were peculiar, so 
that its administration was provided for separately. The 
Resident of Mysore is the Chief Commissioner. 

It is a scheduled district under Act XIV of 1874, and is 
governed by such of the General Acts as have been declared 
in force, and by Regulations under the 33 Viet., cap. 3. 

1 8. Burma. 

British Burma was constituted a Chief Commissionership 
on its present footing in i862 3 . As in the case of the 
Central Provinces, the Resolution gives a history of the 
previous administration. It recites that there had been 
three separate Commissioners of Arracan, Pegu, and Tenas- 
serim respectively : the first had been under the Government 
of Bengal (annexation after the war of 1824) ; Pegu (second 
Burmese war, 1852) had been directly under the Govern- 
ment of India. 

After the third Burmese war (1885-6) the provinces of 
Upper Burma and the Shan States were annexed, and formed 
into seventeen districts, the States being under political con- 

1 Notification, No. 379, dated 7th 3 Resolution, Foreign Depart- 

February, 1874 (Gazette of India, Part ment (General), No. 212, dated 3ist 

II, p. 53). January, 1862. 

8 Proclamation issued May, 1834. 


trol only 1 . The Chief Commissioner has jurisdiction over 
the whole, but the Upper Burma territories are governed by- 
several separate Regulations under the 33 Viet., cap. 3. 

19. The Andaman Islands. 

The small settlement at Port Blair has importance chiefly 
as a penal settlement for convicts ; the government is by 
a Chief Commissioner at Port Blair. 

20. Berdr. 

Berar (the Hyderabad Assigned Districts) is governed by 
British officers in virtue of the treaties of 1853 and i86o 2 . 
By the first treaty Berar and some other territories were 
assigned for the payment of interest on the debt due to the 
East India Company for the support of the Hyderabad 
Contingent force, and for some other purposes. The assign- 
ment was subject to an annual account of receipts and 
expenses. By the treaty of 1860 the debt was declared 
cancelled ; certain of the territories assigned under the first 
treaty were restored, and Berar alone retained (within the 
general limits it now occupies, but including certain taluqas 
inside the boundaries which were before exempt from man- 
agement). No account is now rendered to the Nizdm, but 
the British Government pays to him any surplus it may 
have in hand after meeting the cost of administration, the 
cost of the troops of the Contingent, and certain allowances 
and pensions specified in the treaty. 

No laws are in force as such ; but the Governor-General 
makes rules on certain subjects and also directs such Acts 
as are suitable, to be followed. They are then ' in force,' 

1 Proclamation, 3rd March, 1886 ' to the exclusive management of 
(British Surma Gazette, 6th March, the British Resident for the time 
1886, Part I, p. 89). being at Hyderabad and to such 

2 Article 6 of the treaty of 1853 officers acting under his orders, as 
and article 6 of the treaty of 26th may from time to time be appointed 
December, 1860 (Aitchison's Treaties, by the Government of India to the 
vol. v. pp. 214-224"). By the treaty charge of those districts.' 

of 1853 the districts are assigned 

VOL. I. E 


not as Acts of the Legislature, but as expressions of the will 
of the Governor-General l . 

21. The term 'Non-Regulation' Province. 

There remains one more topic of the administrative sys- 
tem to be noticed. We still hear of ' Regulation ' Provinces 
and ' N on- Regulation ' Provinces ; and these terms should be 
explained, if it is only for the sake of history, as it must be 
admitted that the terms, having lost their former force, are 
going out of use. 

Starting with the idea of the ' Presidencies ' as the centres 
of government, we have already seen that each Presidency 
under its Governor and Council was empowered to enact 
a code of ' Regulations ' for its government, in the days 
before 1 834, when a General Legislative Council was formed. 
When therefore any territory was added by conquest or 
treaty to a presidency as it was first supposed would be 
the ordinary course such territory or province came under 
the existing ' Regulations ' ; and further, the course of its 
official appointments was governed by an Act of Parlia- 
ment. But when, as we have seen, provinces were acquired 
which were not, and could not be, annexed to any of the 
three Presidencies, their official staff could be provided as 
the Governor- General pleased, and was not governed by 
any Statute ; and what was perhaps of greater importance 
still, the existing Regulations of the Bengal, Madras, or 
Bombay Codes did not apply proprio vigore. Such 
provinces were then called ' Non-Regulation Provinces.' 
Besides the whole provinces never ' regulationized,' there 

1 There have been proposals from especially when the term of settle- 
time to time to restore the territory ment expired. It should also be 
to the rule of the Nizam. But it is fairly borne in mind that the Nizam 
believed that these have now re- is not the indigenous or natural 
ceived their final quietus. It would ruler any more than the British 
certainly be extremely hard on the crown. The country was conquered 
population, which has grown well by the Mughal emperors, and the 
to do if not rich and contented, Nizam, who was originally their local 
under British rule, for nearly half deputy, established his independ- 
a century, if a change was now ence in the last days of the collapse 
made. Treaty obligations to respect of the empire, and owes his con- 
the moderation of our Revenue tinuance in his existing territory 
Settlement might be made on paper, entirely to the moderation of the 
but they could not be enforced, British rulers of the time. 


were also parts of the older presidencies "which it was 
desirable to exempt from the ordinary law. The ' Non- 
Regulation Provinces,' in fact, soon came to comprise the 
larger portion of the total number of districts in British 
India 1 . 

Of the two features which distinguished the Non-Regula- 
tion districts, one relating to the difference of the laws in 
force cannot be fully explained till we have further studied 
the legislative powers of the Indian Government in the next 
chapter. I must therefore defer my remarks for the present, 
only saying that the difference in law has now almost dis- 
appeared as regards the bulk of the districts ; but as regards 
a few which are really backward, or exceptional tracts of 
country requiring a simpler and more ' paternal ' form of 
government, the old distinction has given way to a new 
and real one. 

The second feature of the original distinction survives 
still, but only in the titles and salaries of certain officials, 
and also in the fact that in Regulation Provinces certain 
posts are, by law, reserved to be held by members of the 
Covenanted Civil Services 2 . Under the Act of 33 Geo. III. 
(1793), it was provided that offices under Government 
should be filled by Covenanted Civil Servants of the Presi- 
dency to which the vacant office belonged. Consequently 
districts not attached to any Presidency were not bound by 
this rule, and the Governor- General could provide for their 
administration as he pleased. 

1 Colonel Chesney (Indian Polity, began in 1834), applied equally to 
and edition, p. 193) gives a list these territories, provided the pro- 
showing that there are in Non- vince formed part of British India 
Regulation to 97 Regulation dis- when the Act was passed. Thus, 
tricts. Readers must beware of any general Act passed after 1849 
certain inaccuracies in this other- would apply to the Punjab, and one 
wise excellent book, as regards the passed after 1856 to Oudh. 
legal position of the Non-Regulation 2 The question what appoint- 
Provinces. The author is mistaken ments in India, generally, must be 
in supposing that the Non-Regu- held by Covenanted Civil Servants 
lation Provinces were excluded from and what must be so held in the 
the operation of Legislative enactments Judicial and Revenue Branches in 
till 1861. They were exempt from Regulation Provinces, is now deter- 
the Regulations, but all Acts applying mined by the Act of Parliament, 
generally to British India, passed 24 and 25 Viet., cap. 54. 
by the Legislative Council (which 


It was both natural and advisable in such cases that 
military and political officers (who had been, in many cases, 
engaged in the affairs of a province before its annexation) 
should be appointed to the task of first organizing and con- 
ducting the new administration. Besides this, as time went 
on, an increasing staff of native and European and Eurasian 
' uncovenanted ' officers came into existence. It consisted 
of qualified persons appointed in India or otherwise, but 
who had not signed a covenant under the old forms with the 
Court of Directors, or passed through Haileybury College, or 
been selected by competitive examination under the later 
rules (since 1856). 

Such officers could of course be also employed. At the 
same time there was nothing to prevent civilians of the 
Covenanted Services being also appointed as their services 
became available: consequently the Commission in those 
provinces is always a mixed one l . 

In the ' Non-Regulation ' districts also the district officer 
(called ' Deputy Commissioner ' ? ) originally had civil as 
well as criminal and revenue powers, and this is still main- 
tained in a few cases, though the later tendency has been to 
confine the district officer to his revenue and executive 
duty ; he however has in all provinces criminal powers as 
magistrate, because that is necessary, though of course he 
does not take any large share in the disposal of ordinary 
Criminal Court cases. As magistrate he hears appeals and 
superintends the administration, and in some provinces is 
invested with special powers enabling him to deal directly 
with heavy cases (all offences not punishable with death) 
without committing them for trial to the Sessions Court. 

1 And local rules exist as to what 2 This special title of the district 

appointments should ordinarily officer is about the most tangible 

be open to or be held by each class, 'outward and visible sign' that a 

Military in Civil employ, Civilian district is ' Non-Regulation ' that 

and Uncovenanted with a view to I am aware of. 
giving a fair proportion to each. 


22. List of Districts in India. 

The following provincial lists will prove useful to the 
student, who will in the course of this book find continual 
reference to the ' Districts ' and ' Divisions ' (aggregates of 
three or more districts under a Commissioner). 

The table shows the form of government, whether a 
' local government ' (i. e. under a Governor or Lieutenant- 
Governor), or a ' local administration ' (under a Chief Com- 
missioner) l , and also the groups of districts under ' Divi- 
sions ' a plan which, as we shall see, interposes a certain 
intermediate superintendence and control over the districts 
before coming to the chief revenue and executive control 
vested in the Financial Commissioners or Boards of Revenue, 
and in the head of the Government. I have also given the 
chief facts regarding the acquisition of the districts, and 
the date of their passing under British rule 2 . The date of 
the Land-Revenue Settlements is also given as far as 

1 See pp. 39-40. quired by treaty, exchange and 

8 This is stated generally : in other arrangement for simplifying 

some cases the district was acquired boundaries, which it is impossible 

piecemeal, and small portions ac- to include in a general table. 


< . 

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Name of P 
vince, with 
of Governm 
and chie 
Revenue Co 

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The ' Nodbad ' estates are 
temporarily settled : set- 
tlement expires in 1892. 

These two districts together 
formed the old Tirhut dis- 

The Daman-i-Koh exempt 
from the Regulations (and 
Permanent Settlement) 
since 1780 and forms a 
Government estate settled 
under Act XXXVII of 
1855, and now under Reg. 
Ill of 1872. 


^ ^ 

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Date of 
Land Reve 


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g<i S-s 


er territorial 

and f 

I 1 I 




These were the five ' Sir- 
kars ' or districts. Gantur 
did not immediately pass 
with the others but fell in 
in 1788. The others were 
all managed politically 
under tribute till 1823. 
In these districts the Per- 
manent Settlement chiefly 
took effect. 
The ' Settlement ' dates of 

course refer to the tracts 
under Raiyatw&ri Settle- 


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tricts of ' Rajamundry,' 
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natic in parts, in 
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firmed by Empe- 
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The ' Carnatic dis- 
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Nawab in 1801. 

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The Dindigal part of 
this district (Palni, 
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was acquired 1792. 


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poned till i 

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law, excepi 

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Name of P 
vince, with f 
of Governm 
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ed from 


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trict transferr 
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Settlement for 

years expired. 

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(Settlement expired.) 

Sanction of Govern- 
ment of India not 




s ^ * 


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Date of Regular 
Land Revenue 
(in force). 

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c3 N 

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Date of Acquisition, 
and former territorial 

O O! HI 


SH eg C3 V 

Name of Pro- 
vince, with form 
of Government 
and chief 
Revenue Control. 

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531 S'Sl" ^6c feg^2 

lit qjl fill 3 Jii 

o3 -2 o3 T3 

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f ?i si 


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, after 



Ceded by 
(March 18 
first Sikh w 

vo" g 


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[CHAP. n. 



o g> T3? S i ol ^ *? 

is :s 1 d^i i 
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1 * d 48 1 . 1 -d j 

i.. &! s 4 . aii 

r/) OT C3 ^j ,-H ^^ Q} to 

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i. Reason for describing them. 

As I have already alluded to ' Acts ' and ' Regulations ' of 
the Indian Legislature, and shall have occasion continually 
to refer to such Acts and Regulations in the sequel, it will 
be desirable to give a brief account of the legislative powers 
under which laws have been, and are, enacted for the Indian 

Just as in the last chapter we learned that the organiza- 
tion of the several provinces for administrative purposes 
was only accomplished gradually and by a series of Acts of 
Parliament, so the Indian Legislature has gradually grown 
into its present form after several statutes for organizing it 
have been made, amended, and repealed. The tentative 
and changeful nature of the arrangements provided are due 
to the same causes in both instances. 

At first it was only necessary to provide for the internal 
affairs of the Company's factories, to determine what laws 
the settlers were to be deemed to carry with them, and were 
to be bound by, in their new home, and what courts were to 
administer justice among them. Soon, however, the sphere 
widened ; whole provinces were acquired and added on to 
the original settlements ; and then came the necessity of 
controlling, not only the European settlers, but of providing 
for the government of the country at large. 


Trading charters had then to be supplemented by Acts of 
Parliament, providing for the direction and control of the 
East India Company (now that it was a governing body), 
regulating the appointment of high functionaries and sub- 
ordinate agents in India, determining the constitution of 
Courts of Justice, and giving powers of local legislation. 

The first Act, as already intimated, passed for this purpose 
was the ' Regulating ' Act of 1772-3 (13 Geo. Ill, cap 63). 
This had to be amended on the subject of framing 'Regu- 
lations' in 1780-1, and further in 1784 and 1786 (26 Geo. 
Ill, cap. 1 6). The subsequent Acts were passed at intervals 
of twenty years (when the charters were renewed), thus : 

1792-3 (33 Geo - HI, cap. 52). 

1812-3 (53 Geo - IH, cap.' 155). 

1833 (3 and 4 Will. IV, cap. 85). 

1853 (16 and 17 Viet., cap. 95). 

2. Home Government of the present day. 

It would serve no useful purpose, even if I had space 
available, to describe the early history of the Government 
which, in former days, as at present, was, from the necessity 
of the case, carried on partly in England and partly in 

The 'Court of Directors' of the Company, afterwards 
supervised by the ' Board of Control ' (which acted as a 
check on the part of the Crown) 1 , passed away in 1 858. 
The Home Government is now provided for by the Act 21 
and 22 Viet., cap. 106 (A.D. 1858), known as the ' Act for the 
better government of India,' amended in 1869 (32 and 33 
Viet., cap. 97). This Statute received the Royal assent on 
the 2nd August, 1858, and came into force thirty days later. 
In the proclamation that was issued throughout India, the 
Governor-General is for the first time styled 'Viceroy.' 
This Act transferred the government of the Company's 
possessions to the Crown, and provides that all the rights of 
the Company are to be exercised by the Crown, and all 

1 This was constituted by ' Pitt's Act' of 1784 (24 Geo. Ill, cap. 25). 


revenues to be received for and in the name of the Queen, 
and to be applied for the purposes of the government of 
India alone, subject to the provisions of the Act l . 

One of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State is to 
exercise all the control that the Court of Directors of the old 
Company did, whether alone or under the Board of Control. 

A Council of fifteen members, styled the ' Council of 
India 2 ,' is also established. The number has been since 
reduced to ten (1889), by enabling the Secretary of State 
not to fill up five vacancies out of the fifteen. The Act 
fixes the salary of the members (payable out of the Indian 
revenue) and prohibits them from sitting or voting in Par- 
liament. The Council is under the direction of the Secre- 
tary of State, and its duty under the Act, is to ' conduct 
the business transacted in the United Kingdom in relation 
to the government of India and the correspondence with 

It may be, and is, divided into Committees for different 
departments of business. If the Council differs from the 
Secretary of State, the opinion of the Secretary is final, ex- 
cept in some matters, for the decision of which the law 
declares a majority of votes necessary 3 . 

3. Legislative power in England. 

The Parliament has full power to legislate for India 
whenever it thinks fit. Not only has Parliament this 
general power, but the local Indian Legislature is expressly 
barred from dealing with certain subjects which it was 
thought wiser to reserve for the Imperial Parliament. 

I may here mention that it is a settled rule of inter- 
pretation that Acts of Parliament applicable to 'British 

1 In 1876 (39 Viet., cap. 10) the native princes and chiefs at Delhi 

authority of the Queen was further on ist January, 1877. 

recognized and Her Majesty was 2 See the Act, sects. 7 and 19. 

authorized to adopt the style and 3 The most important of such 

title of Empress of India which she cases is provided by section 41 of 

did by Proclamation, a8th April, the Act itself. No grant or appro- 

1876. The assumption of the title priation of Indian revenue or public 

' Empress of India ' (Kaisar-i-Hind) property can be made without such 

was celebrated with great pomp majority, 
before an immense assemblage of 


India ' give the law to the whole of those territories, not 
only as they happen to be at the time, but however they 
may be constituted thereafter. No matter how many pro- 
vinces may be added to British India in future, Acts of 
Parliament now in force and applying to ' British India ' 
would equally apply to the new provinces added 1 . The 
meaning of the terms ' British India ' and ' India ' (includ- 
ing territories which are under native princes, but under 
' the suzerainty of Her Majesty ') is more formally defined in 
the ' Interpretation Act,' 53 and 53 Viet., cap. 63 (1889), but 
sect. 1 8 makes this apply only to Acts passed after the 
Interpretation Act. 

I shall not here notice the Acts of Parliament applicable 
to India, as that would be beyond the direct scope of my 
work 2 . 

Such being the powers of the Secretary of State for India 
and his Council, and of the Imperial Parliament, we may 
now consider the powers and constitution of the Government 
of India. 

4. The Government of India. 

There is a Viceroy 3 and Governor-General with the 
supreme power of control and supervision over all the 
Governors and Lieutenant-Governors (who are the 'Local 
Governments '). The Governors of Madras and Bombay 
retain some special powers (such as that of direct cor- 
respondence with the Home Government) not enjoyed by 
other Local Governments, and which in some respects 
affect their relation to the Government of India ; but this it 
is not necessary to enter upon. 

1 See Sir H. (then Mr.) Maine's because it was not till 1849 that 

remarks in the Abstract of the Pro- the Panjab formed part of the 

ceedings of the Legislative Council territories of the East India Com- 

of sand March, 1867 (Calcutta Gazette, pany. 

3oth March, 1867). Not so with 2 An excellent collection of ' Sta- 

Indian Acts : if applicable to the tutes relating to India' (up to 1881, 

' whole of the territories of the East and Supplement) is published at 

India Company,' that means the the Government Central Printing 

territories as they existed at the Office, Calcutta, by the Legislative 

time. For example, an Act passed Department. 

in 1 848 would not (unless afterwards 3 So first styled in the Queen's 

extended) apply to the Panjab, Proclamation of 1858. 


The Governor-General may also himself become the Local 
Government of certain provinces by taking them under his 
direct management (under the Act 17 and 18 Viet., cap. 77) 
in the manner described in the last chapter 1 . The Central 
Provinces, Oudh, Assam, and Burma, are examples of this. 
In such cases there is a Chief Commissioner who constitutes 
the ' Local Administration.' 

The Governor- General is now assisted by a Council of 
five Ordinary Members 2 . This is the Executive Council. 

5. The first form of Indian Legislature. 

The first Act which directly provided for the form of 
government in India is the 13 Geo. Ill, cap. 63 (passed in 
1773), known as 'The Regulating Act.' It provided that 
the Government of Bengal should consist of a Governor- 
General and Council (four Councillors), and this was to be 
the Supreme Government, subject, however, to control of 
the Home authorities 3 . 

Legislative powers were given under this Statute to the 
Governor-General for the ' Settlement of Fort William ' 
and other factories and places subordinate thereto. 

Madras and Bombay had not yet any power of making 
Regulations. To the former of these Presidencies powers 
were given by an Act of Parliament in 1800 (which ex- 
tended powers similar to those which an Act of 1781, 
presently to be mentioned, had given to Bengal). 

In 1807 Bombay was provided for, and the powers of 
Madras were at the same time improved and placed on the 
same footing. 

The chief feature of the Regulating Act as it affected 
legislation, was, that all laws required to be registered in 
the Supreme Court of Judicature at Calcutta, in order to 
give them validity. This plan did not answer ; and it was 
amended by an Act of 1781 4 . 

1 See Chapter II, p. 8. 4 The causes of the change were 

2 24 and 25 Viet. , cap. 67 (Indian the antagonism which sprang up 
Councils Act), sect. 3. between the Supreme Court and 

3 Vide the Act, sees. 7, 8, and 9, the Council. All such matters 
and Tagore Lectures for 1872, p. 44. must necessarily be here omitted. 


6. The Regulations. 

Under this amending Act of 1781, a large body of Regu- 
lations was passed 1 . The Marquis of Cornwallis revised 
and codified the Regulations in 1793, and on the ist of 
May, 1793, forty-eight Regulations, so revised, were passed, 
of which the forty -first declares the purpose of forming into 
a regular Code, all Regulations that might be enacted for 
the internal government of the British territories in Bengal. 

That these Regulations did not exactly comply with the 
terms of the Act of 1773, while they exceeded the limits of 
the powers given by the Act of 1781, there can be no doubt. 
However, Parliament in 1797 (37 Geo. Ill, cap. 142) recog- 
nized them as in fact valid, approved of the formation of a 
Code of such Regulations, and only added that they should 
be registered in the 'Judicial Department,' and that the 
reasons for each Regulation should be prefixed to it 2 . The 
Code thus issued in 1793 an< ^ added to down to 1833, 
forms what is called the ' Code of Bengal Regulations 3 .' 
There are local Codes of Regulations also for Madras and 

7. No provision for Provinces not annexed formally 
to the Bengal Presidency. 

It was noted in the last chapter that the force of the 
Regulations was in 1800 (39 and 40 Geo. Ill, cap. 79) 
extended to the province of Benares and 'all other fac- 
tories, districts, and places which now are, or hereafter shall 
be, subordinate, and to all such provinces and districts as 
may at any time hereafter be annexed to the Presidency of 
Fort William in Bengal.' 

The student who desires to pursue these preambles being, in fact, ' ex- 
the subject, may refer to the Tagore planatory memoranda ' of the object 
Lectures, 1872 (Lecture III), and and purpose of the law. 
the standard Histories. 3 Part of this is still in force. The 
1 Tagore Law Lectures, 1872, p. 80. various repealing Acts have done 
" This is the reason why long, away with all obsolete Regulations ; 
and sometimes very instructive, others, of course, have been specially 
preambles are to be found prefixed repealed in the course of legisla- 
te some of the earlier Regulations, tion. 

VOL. I. G 


In the course of the preceding chapter I have noticed the 
importance of this provision, and also the fact that various 
new acquisitions of territory, though annexed in general 
terms to the British dominions, were not specifically made 
subordinate, or annexed to, the Presidency of Bengal. Con- 
sequently, no Regulations applied to such provinces, nor 
was there any direct power of making laws for them till 
1834; nor was all difficulty connected with the subject 
completely removed till 1861. 

8. The second Indian Legislature. 

The 28th August, 1833 on which day the 3 and 4 Will. 
IV, cap. 85, was passed brought to a close the era of the 
Regulations. By the 43rd section, the ' Governor- General 
in Council ' was to make Laws and Regulations for all 
persons, for all courts of justice, and for all places and 
things within British territory and regarding servants of 
the Company in allied Native States. 

The Act provided also certain limits to the power of the 
Indian Legislature with regard to certain subjects of 

In the former period, the legislative power had been to 
make ' Rules, Regulations, and Ordinances ; ' the term 
' Regulation ' was consequently adopted as most properly 
describing the enactments issued. Under the 3 and 4 
Will. IV, cap. 85, the power was given to make laws as 
well as Regulations ; and it thenceforward became the 
custom to call the enactments of the Governor- General 
in Council ' Acts.' 

There is but little specific difference in the nature of a 
Regulation and an Act, except that the former were less 
concisely and technically drafted, and were usually pre- 
ceded by the detailed expositions of the motives and pur- 
pose of the enactments previously alluded to. This, in 
' Acts,' has been replaced, by the brief ' preamble 1 .' 

1 There are also some differences on such details. The introduction 
in the manner of interpretation ; to ' Field's Chronological Index ex- 
but it is not here necessary to enter plains the subject clearly. The 


From 1793 to 1833, therefore, we have 'Regulations,' 
and from 1834 down to the present day we have ' Acts/ 

These Acts are numbered consecutively through the 
year, and follow the calendar, not the official, year. This 
plan has ever since been adhered to, notwithstanding the 
modifications which have affected the constitution of the 
Legislature down to the present time. 

By the Act of 1833, the Governments of Madras and 
Bombay were deprived of the power of legislation, and did 
not regain this power till 1861. 

The Act gave the Governor- General a Council of four 
members, of whom one was to be conversant with legal 
subjects. He was not a member of the Executive Council, 
and only sat when legislation was in question. Even then 
he was not necessarily present ; nor need he concur when 
an Act was passed l . Under this Act, however, Commis- 
sioners were appointed in India to consider and propose 
drafts of laws a . 

9. The Indian Legislature in its third stage. 

Our present system is nothing more than a development 
of the Legislature of the 3 and 4 Will. IV, cap. 85. The 
first important change was made by the Act of 1853 (16 and 
17 Viet., cap. 15). It will be interesting to follow, in a very 
general manner, the changes made 3 . 

' Statement of Objects and Reasons,' appointed to advise the Crown, on 

which is always published with the the recommendations of the Law 

proposed law while it is yet in the Commissioners in India, 

stage of a ' Bill,' does away with 3 Acts passed under the constitu- 

the necessity for any lengthy pre- tion of 1834 are technically styled 

amble to the Act itself when passed. Acts of the Governor-General of India in 

It is, however, itself probably a relic Council; those under the system of 

of the old exposition prefixed to the 1853 are Acts of the Legislative Council 

Regulations. of India ; those made since the 

1 For an excellent comparison of Indian Councils' Act of 1861 are 
the various Legislatures in more Acts of the Council of the Governor- 
detail, see Tagore Law Lectures, 1872, General of India assembled for the pur- 
page 105 et seq. pose of making Laws and Regulations. 

3 It was under these provisions At the present day the drafts of 

that Lord Macaulay came out, the proposed Acts are published in the 

result of the Commissioners' labours Gazette of India, for the purpose of 

being the Indian Penal Code, now giving notice of the proposed law 

so famous. By the Act of 1853 a and of invoking criticism, and in 

Law Commissioner in England was that stage the draft is spoken of as 

G '2, 


By this Act some purely legislative members were added 
to the Council. These were appointed, one by each Governor 
of a presidency or Lieutenant-Governor of a province. 
The Chief Justice of Bengal and one of the Judges, were 
also made members. 

While, however, the Council was thus improved in two 
important features (a) local representation of provinces, 
and (6) special adaptation for legislative functions it did 
not satisfy the ideas of many who could make their opinions 
heard. In those days the plan of a local legislature for each 
province was strongly advocated, and in 1 859 Lord Canning 
sent home a despatch, in which not only this subject was 
dealt with, but the practice of the existing Council was 
criticised. Lord Canning advocated a separate legislature 
for Bombay, Madras, Bengal, the North-West Provinces, 
and the Panjab. He also desired that natives of the 
country should be consulted, and that they should be able 
to give their opinions in their own language. 

a ' Bill.' When the Acts are passed 
by the Council and have received 
the assent of the Governor-General, 
they are also published in the 

The Superintendent of Govern- 
ment Printing (at his office, No. 8, 
Hastings Street, Calcutta) publishes 
authorized copies of all Acts, which 
can be bought by the public at a 
small price, varying according to 
the length of the Act. The Legisla- 
tive Department is also issuing a 
collected series of the Acts, grouped 
in volumes of ' General Acts,' and 
in ' Codes,' i. e. the Acts referring 
specially or solely to each province. 
In these editions, which are of great 
value, tables are published showing 
how all the Acts and Regulations 
are disposed of by repeal, &c. Only 
unrepealed enactments are printed, 
with the alterations introduced by 
later Acts (if passed in time for the 
printing). The provincial volumes, 

or 'Codes,' of Bengal, Madras, and 
Bombay, give all the Regulations 
and Acts of the Local Legislatures, 
as well as the Acts of the Supreme 
Legislature ; and all the provincial 
volumes contain the ' Regulations ' 
issued for certain districts under 
the Act 33 Viet., cap. 3. They do 
not, however, give the ' rules made 
pursuant to various Acts,' which 
are now so conspicuous a feature in 
recent Acts. These must be looked 
for in local Gazettes or reprints. 
Such ' rules' are, however, of great 
convenience, enabling a multitude 
of details to be locally provided for 
which could not be entered in the 
Act itself without swelling its bulk 
enormously, since the ' rules ' are 
as various as are the conditions of 
the provinces. The Forest Officer 
will remember how important a 
place ' rules ' have in the Forest 
Acts of 1878 and 1881. 


10. The Indian Legislature as it is at present (under 
the Indian Councils Act). 

In 1861 was passed the 24 and 35 Viet., cap. 67, the 
' Indian Councils' Act,' which (as amended in some particu- 
lars by later Statutes) is the law under which our present 
legislature subsists 1 . 

The nucleus of the Council is the Executive Council of 
the Governor-General. This now consists of five Ordinary 
Members (with the Commander-in-Chief as an Extraordinary 
Member, if so appointed by the Secretary of State). The 
Governor of Madras or Bombay becomes also another 
Extraordinary Member when the Council sits in his Presi- 

Of the five Ordinary Members, three are officials, Civil 
or Military (of ten years' standing at least), and of the 
remaining two, one must be a Barrister (or Scotch Advo- 
cate) of not less than five years' standing. The Barrister 
Member is generally spoken of as the ' Legal Member ' and 
the other as the ' Financial Member.' When the Council 
sits for legislative purposes, it has to be supplemented by 
a number of ' Additional ' Members 2 , for the purpose of 
making Laws and Regulations only. These Additional 
Members have no power of voting except at legislative 
meetings. In number they must be not less than six nor 
more than twelve ; one-half the number so nominated must 
(by section 10) be non-official persons. 

Provision is made for the Council meeting in the absence 
of the Governor-General; and for the Governor-General, 
when visiting any part of India, exercising his power with- 
out his Council. 

1 All the recent Acts of Parlia- Department. 

ment, viz. from 1855, can be found 2 When the Council sits in any 

in the Collection of Statutes issued province, the Lieutenant-Governor 

by Mr. Whitley Stokes in continua- (and by the 33 Viet., cap. 3, sect. 

tion of the 'Law relating to India 3, a Chief Commissioner also) be- 

and the East India Company ' ; the comes ex-officio a Member for legisla- 

former can easily be obtained, the Urn purposes only. The ex-officio 

latter is now out of print and scarce. Members may be in excess of the 

But an edition of all the Statutes maximum of twelve Additional 

is being printed in the Legislative Members. 


But this power does not extend to legislation. The 
Governor-General can never legislate apart from his Council; 
but the Council may sit notwithstanding the absence of the 
Governor-General. In such cases a ' President in Council ' 
is appointed according to the Act. 

The Governor- General (alone) has, however, a special l 
power to issue ordinances for the peace and good govern- 
ment of the country in cases of emergency. 

Power is reserved to the Crown (through the Secretary 
of State in Council) to disallow any law or Regulation 
passed in India ; and the powers of the Council are restricted 
by section 22 in respect of certain subjects of legislation. 

The Indian Councils Act was amended by the 32-33 
Viet., cap. 98 (1869), and by 37-38 Viet., cap. 91 (1874), 
and by the 39 Viet., cap. 7 (1876). 

ii. Powers of Local Legislatures. 

The Act gives legislative powers to the Madras and 
Bombay Governments ; consequently, the Local Codes which 
show a blank after 1833, begin to have Local Acts from 
1862 onwards. For the other provinces the matter is 
differently stated. The provisions of the Act are to be 
extended to the Lieutenant-Governorship of Bengal, and 
may be extended to the North -West Provinces 2 and the 
Panjab as soon as the Governor-General deems it expedient. 

1 See section 23. This remains in ting as legislative bodies (pages 122- 
force for a limited period only, and 23) : 

is subject to a ' veto ' from the Home ' The character of these Legisla- 

Grovernment (Secretary of State). tive Councils is simply this, that 

2 Under these provisions the Ben- they are Committees for the pur- 
gal Council was constituted by pro- pose of making laws, Committees by 
clamation on the i7th January, means of which the Executive Go- 
1862. A Local Council of nine vernment obtains advice and assist- 
Members for the North- West Pro- ance in their legislation, and the 
vinces and Oudh was created by public derive the benefit of full 
Notification, No. 1704, dated Cal- publicity being ensured at every 
cutta, 26th November, 1886, with stage of the law-making process, 
effect from the ist December, 1886. Although the Government enacts 
No local legislature for the Panjab the laws through its Council, private 
has yet been constituted. legislation being unknown, yet the 

The following passage from the public has a right to make itself 

Tagore Lectures for 1872 may be heard, and the Executive is bound 

here quoted as well describing the to defend its legislation, 
functions of the Councils when sit- ' And when the laws are once 



The local Governor is bound to transmit an authenticated 
copy of any Law or Eegulation to which he has assented, 
to the Governor-General l . No such local law has any 
validity till the Governor- General has assented thereto, and 
such assent shall have been signified by him to and pub- 
lished by the Governor. If the assent is withheld, the 
Governor-General must signify his reasons in writing for so 


made, the Executive is as much 
bound by them as the public, and 
the duty of enforcing them belongs 
to the Courts of Justice. Such laws 
are in reality the orders of Govern- 
ment, but they are made in a manner 
which ensures publicity and dis- 
cussion, are enforced by the Courts 
and not by the Executive, cannot be 
changed but by the same deliberate 
and public process as that by which 
they were made, and can be enforced 
against the Executive or in favour 
of individuals whenever occasion 
requires. The Councils are not de- 
liberative bodies with respect to any 
subject but that of the immediate 

legislation before them. They can- 
not enquire into grievances, call for 
information, or examine the con- 
duct of the Executive. The acts of 
administration cannot be impugned, 
nor can they be properly defended 
in such assemblies, except with re- 
ference to the particular measure 
under discussion.' 

1 And if the Bill contains penal 
clauses, it is ordered (as a matter of 
administrative regulation) by a de- 
spatch of the Secretary of State of 
ist December, 1862, that it should 
be submitted to the Governor- 
General before it is locally passed 
into an Act. 



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12. Law of 'Non-Regulation' Provinces. 

One section (25) of the Indian Councils Act I have 
reserved for notice till the conclusion of this chapter. 

I have already spoken of 'Non-Regulation Provinces,' 
and so far explained how they came into existence. We 
have seen that, unless expressly made subordinate to the 
presidency, a province did not come within the operation of 
the Regulations. Consequently, up to 1833, no provision 
existed by which anything in the nature of a legislative 
power existed for such places. 

The Act 3 and 4 Will. IV, cap. 85, afforded only a partial 
remedy. It gave, it is true, power to legislate for all 
British territory, so that provinces which were already 
British territory at the time were provided for; but 
nothing was said about the application of such Acts, if 
general in their character, to provinces not at the time 
British provinces, but added afterwards 1 . It soon became 
doubtful how far such Acts were practically in force. But 
the chief difficulty was, that in the newer provinces a num- 
ber of matters had been provided for by local rules, circular 
orders, and official instructions, which emanated from the 
executive, but not from any legislative, authority. Busi- 
ness could not have been carried on without such rules, 
yet there was no legal basis for them, only the sanction of 

The Indian Councils Act of 1861 removed the difficulty, 
and by section 25 provides that ' no rule, law, or regulation 
which, prior to the passing of this Act, shall have been 
made by' 

the Governor-General, 

the Governor-General in Council, 

the Governor, 

the Governor in Council, 

the Lieutenant-Governor, 

1 Vide note, p. 79 ; the remarks able to all British territory, was not 

there quoted were made in the legally in force, e. g. in the Panjab, 

Council with reference to the Act because in 1835 the Panjab was not 

XI of 1835, which, though applic- British territory. 


for and in respect of any such non-regulation province (i. e. 
territory known from time to time as a non-regulation pro- 
vince) shall be deemed invalid, ' only by reason of the same 
not having been made in conformity ' with the provisions of 
Acts regarding the powers and constitution of Councils and 
other authorities 1 . 

13. Local Laws Acts. 

In order to remove any possible doubt on the subject, the 
Indian Legislature has since expressly enacted ' Local Laws 
Acts,' which state what Rules and Acts and Regulations are 
to be deemed to be in force in the chief non-regulation pro- 
vinces. In the Panjab we have Act IV of 1872 (amended 
by XII of 1878); for Oudh, Act XVIII of 1876; for the 
Central Provinces, Act XX of 1875. 

In 1874, also, an Act was passed (No. XV of 1874) which 
is called the ' Laws Local Extent Act,' and this, in a series 
of schedules, gives a list of previous Acts and Regula- 
tions which extend to the whole of India, or to the particular 
province (as the case may be), and the applicability of which 
was, or might be, previously doubtful. 

14. Scheduled Districts. 

As regards the extent and nature of the law in force, the 
old distinction of ' Regulation ' and ' Non-Regulation ' has 
entirely lost its meaning. Many of the old Regulations 
have been repealed or superseded, and some of those that 
remain have been expressly declared to apply to the Non- 
Regulation Provinces. Not only so, but all the more 
important branches of legislation Civil and Criminal 
Procedure, Land Revenue, Stamps, Excise, Irrigation, the 

1 When rules and orders were Governor-General. In this way the 

made by ' Boards of Administration ' Panjab Forest Rules of 1855 had 

or 'Chief Commissioners,' they validity, owing to their confirmation 

would not have validity under the by the Governor-General in Council. 

Indian Councils Act, unless they This validity has since been affirmed 

had been confirmed by the Governor- by the insertion of the rules in the 

General, in which case they vir- schedule of the Panjab Laws Act. 
tually became rules made by the 



Law of Contract, the Criminal Law have been provided 
for either by general Acts which apply to all the provinces 
at large, or by special Acts containing local details, but 
resembling each other in principle. But there is still a 
practical distinction of another kind to be mentioned, which 
is of importance and likely long to be maintained. 

There apportions of the older Eegulation Provinces, and 
also portions of the newer Non-Regulation Provinces them- 
selves, which are ' Extra Regulation ' in a perfectly valid and 
current sense. These are now spoken of as the ' Scheduled dis- 
tricts,' under the Act (XIV of 1874) passed to place them on 
an intelligible basis as regards the laws in force in them l . 

The districts are called ' Scheduled ' because they are 
noted in the ' Schedules ' of Act XIV of 1874. 

None of the Acts of a general character passed before 
1874, the local application of which is settled by Act XV of 

1 The list may be summarised as 
follows : 

Scheduled Districts, Bengal 
I. The Jalpaigiiri and Darjil- 

ing Divisions. 
II. The Hill Tracts of Chitta- 


III. The Santal Parganas. 
IV. The Chutlya Nagpur Divi- 

North-Western Provinces. 
I. The Jhansi Division, com- 
prising the districts of 
Jhansi, Jalaun, and La- 
II. The Province of Kumaon 

and Garhwal. 

III. The Tarai Parganas, com- 
prising Bazpur, Kashi- 
pur, Jaspur, Rudarpur, 
Gadarpur, Kilpuri, 

Nanak-Mattha, and Bil- 
IV. In the Mirzapur District 

(1) The tappas of Agori 
Khas and South Kon in 
the pargana of Agori. 

(2) The tappa of British 
Singrauli in the pargana 
of Singrauli. 

(3) The tappas of Phulwa, 
Dudhi, and Barha in the 
pargana of Bichipar. 

(4) The portion lying to 
the south of the Kaimxir 
V. The Family Domains of the 

Maharaja of Benares. 
VI. The tract of country known 
as Jaunsar-Bawar in the 
Dehra-Dun district. 


The districts of Hazara, Peshawar, 
Kohat, Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, 
Dera Ghazi Khan, Lahaul, and 

Central Provinces. 

No part of the Central Provinces 
is now ' scheduled.' 
The Chief Commissionership of Ajmer 

and Merwdra. 
The Chief Commissionership of Assam. 

British Burma. 
The Hill Tracts of Arracan. 


Certain estates in Ganjam, Viza- 
gapatam, and Godavari districts 
^besides the Laccadive Islands). 


Sindh ,the Panch Mahals (attached 
to the Kaira Collectorate), Aden, 
and certain villages of Mehwasi 


The whole province (Chief Com- 


this same year, apply directly to the Scheduled districts ; it 
is left to the Local Government to define by notification in 
each case, 

(a) what laws are not in force (so as to remove doubts 
in case it might be supposed that some law 
was in force) ; 
(6) what laws are in force ; 

(c) and to extend Acts or parts of Acts to the dis- 
trict in question. 

Of course all Acts passed since 1874 themselves define to 
what territories they extend, so that there can be no further 
doubt on the matter. 

15. Regulations under 33 Viet., cap. 3. 

In order to provide a still more elastic and adaptable 
method of making rules which have legal validity, for pro- 
vinces in an elementary stage of progress, the Act 33 Viet., 
cap. 3 (1870), provides that certain territories may at any 
time be declared by the Secretary of State to be territories 
for which it is desirable that special Regulations (other than 
the Acts of the Legislature) should be made. The districts 
so declared (if not already under Act XIV) become ' Sche- 
duled ' whenever such declaration is made, so that there is 
in fact a power of creating new scheduled districts in addi- 
tion to those in that Act. The Regulations regarding Hazara 
in the Panjab, the Santal Parganas in Bengal, regarding 
Assam, Ajmer, and the Hill Tracts of Arracan, &c., are all 
under this law. They are at once known from the old 
'Regulations'" (of 1793-1833) by their bearing date since 

1 6. Re'sume". 

In order to aid the student in remembering the principal 
stages in the growth of the Legislature, I present the follow- 
ing skeleton or abstract : 

(i) Originally each presidency had its own President 
and Council : no formal legislature being needed 
for settlers who bring their own law with them 
to the ' factory ' in which they settle. 




(2) Territories acquired and formal govern-, 

A. D. ment begins ; Courts have to 


I78i! deal with natives of the country ; 

1797. Legislative power necessary: 
given by the ' Regulating Act ' of 
1773, subject to supervision of Supreme 
Court. This does not work, and is 
amended in 1781, but incompletely. 

(3) A number of ' Regulations ' made ; codified 

in 1793 ; recognised as valid by Act of 
Parliament, 1797. This, with subse- 
quent additions up to 1833, forms the 
Code of ' Bengal Regulations.' 

(4) Legislature of 1834 (3 and 4 Will. IV, 

A - D - cap. 85) for British India. 


The ' Acts ' begin 1 834 and onwards. 

(5) Improved in 1853 by adding local 

A. D. members from provinces and 
some judicial authorities. 



a S 


(6) Finally improved by Indian Councils' 
Act, 1 86 1. 

a $ 

o "O 

A. D. 


Bfi.S O 


(7) Special power given to Secretary of State to declare 
A. D. certain territories amenable to the 33 
1870. Viet., cap. 3. Thereon the head of the 
Local Government or Administration may pro- 
pose to the Governor-General in Council a Regu- 
lation, which, on being approved by him, becomes 




i. Object of the Chapter. 

THE heading of this chapter is perhaps a somewhat 
startling one. I ma} 7 therefore express a hope that it will 
not be misunderstood or taken as indicating an attempt to 
propound a general theory of origin for all the varieties of 
land-tenure that are to be found in India. It may well be 
doubted whether any such theory is, at present at any rate, 
possible ; certainly I have no pretensions to be competent 
to suggest one. And, even if such a theory were possible, 
it might be further questionable whether it would be of use 
to the student of practical land-administration. 

At the same time there may be great advantage to be 
derived from bringing together in one chapter various 
leading facts about Indian land-tenures. It would be 
strange if the comparative method, which has been found 
fruitful in other branches of study bearing on the language 
and progress of mankind, should be infructuous here. I am 
not aware of any treatise in which facts regarding various 
provincial and local forms of land-holding in India have 
been brought together for the purpose of comparative treat- 
ment. The attempt made in this chapter will not then be 
going over old ground. 


2. Value of the Comparative Method. 

A comparative study of land-tenures will bring out 
one thing : there are certain common factors which have, 
at least within wide geographical or ethnical limits, 
always been at work in the production of the tenures 
we actually see around us in the several provinces. Had 
these been always observed, we should have been 
spared some strange mistakes. I may instance the 
case of that curious district on the west coast of India 
known as Malabar. From the tenure point of view Mala- 
ba"r presents in its limited area quite a number of instruc- 
tive and, in one sense, unique facts. It is like one of those 
little glens sometimes found by botanists, in which a group 
of plant-treasures not to be found over many square miles 
outside all at once reward his search. Malabar was long 
a source of puzzled remarks from reporters on land affairs. 
It was supposed, for instance, that here ' private property ' 
in land had existed, while it could not be found anywhere 
else. It was also asserted that here, exceptionally, no land- 
revenue had been levied on the ' proprietor ' before the 
Mysore conquest. Both remarks, though often repeated, 
are quite without foundation. A study of the early Dra- 
vidian-Hindu organization, and a comparison of the history 
of the military chiefs of the country with that observable 
in Oudh and other parts, would have enabled a more correct 
interpretation to be put on the facts. The strong proprie- 
tary holdings of Malabar in all probability grew up in 
exactly the same way as similar rights did in Northern 
India. And as to land-revenue, wherever chiefs of a con- 
quering or military caste are known to have held estates on 
a sort of feudal system, they will be found never to have 
paid land-revenue to the Raja or over- lord. But when in 
the ups and downs of fortune the rule was lost, and the 
chiefs' estates became dismembered, and the descendants 
(as often happens in such cases) managed to regain the land 
in a new capacity, it was not to be supposed that they could 
escape the natural responsibilities of the changed position ; 


in other words, it was not in the nature of things to be 
supposed in Malabar any more than elsewhere that the 
next ruling power should abstain from levying a land- 
revenue on such lands. However, this is all by way of 
anticipation : I must not go into details ; what has been 
said is only with a view to illustrate the uses of comparison 
in the study of land-tenures. It cannot be a matter of 
chance, nor a case in which we must abstain from drawing 
inferences, that a claim to strong ' birth-right ' tenures is, 
all over India, found to arise among the descendants of 
military chieftains who had been colonizers or conquerors 
and who have undergone the usual changes. And if so, the 
origin of Malabar claims, and their relative value, is ex- 

Whatever may be thought, however, of the benefits 
to be derived from a comparison of local tenures, it can 
hardly be doubted that by a preliminary study of this 
kind, we can gain a certain familiarity with common 
forms and with terms of constant occurrence in revenue 
literature, which will greatly simplify our after study, and 
will enable the separate provincial chapters in the sequel 
to be written without the necessity for explaining over 
and over again terms and facts which must recur in 

And, fortunately, there are certain features in the circum- 
stances of our Indian provinces which indicate the lines on 
which a general study may be pursued. 

3. Land grouped in ' Villages.' 

We can hardly help beginning with the general fact that 
all the races of India whose history we are to any extent 
acquainted with, have, when they passed the nomadic or 
pastoral stage, and took to settled agriculture, formed 
certain groups of land-holdings, more or less connected 
together, and which we call ' VILLAGES.' At least that is 
true for all the districts in the plain country where there 
are no exceptional features. 

I have already explained, in an introductory chapter, that 


the term 'village,' as we use it, means a group of land- 
holdings, with (usually) a central aggregate of residences, 
the inhabitants of which have certain relations, and some 
kind of union or bond of common government l . In the 
course of time modifications arise in the ownership and 
constitution of village societies ; but once given a local 
name, the ' village ' remains a feature on the district map 
in spite of all. Family partitions, for instance, and transfers, 
may cause one village to be divided between several 
estates, or may unite twenty villages under one owner, but 
as a local feature the ' village ' always remains. 

The village, its various forms and the modifications it 
undergoes, will then form a. natural starting-point for our 
study of tenures. 

4. Effects of Land-Revenue Administration and 

Then again, the greater Oriental governments which 
preceded ours, have always, in one form or another, de- 
rived the bulk of their State-revenues and Royal property 
from the land. In one system known to us, ' Royal lands ' 
were allotted in the principal villages, and this fact may 
have suggested to the Mughals their plan of allotting 
special farms and villages to furnish the privy purse, and 
has had other survivals. Eut, speaking generally, the 
universal plan of taking revenue was by taking a share of 
the actual grain heap on the threshing-floor from each 
holding. Afterwards this was commuted for a money 
payment levied on each estate or each field as the case 

1 In revenue language, I may which had features in common 
repeat, the village is the ' mauza ' with some forms of Indian village. 
or 'din' (P.). In the Hindi dia- The 'village' group varies in size, 
lects it is variously ganw, gramam, In the Panjab it averages goo acres, 
graon, gaum, or some similar form. in the Central Provinces 1300 acres, 
In Elphinstone's History of India in the North-West Provinces, where 
and many other works, the 'village' population is denser, and land 
is called a ' township.' I am not highly cultivated and much sub- 
aware of any advantage possessed divided, it is 600 acres (Stack's Memo- 
by this term, except that it is randum on Temporary Settlements, 1880, 
equivalent to the Saxon 'fill' p. 8). 

VOL. I. H 


might be. The nature and consequence of this system as 
it affects our modern land-revenue, will be dealt with in 
detail in the next chapter. Here I only state the fact. 
To collect this revenue, the ruler appointed or recognized 
not only a headman and accountant in each village, but 
also a hierarchy of graded officials in districts and minor 
divisions of territory formed for administrative purposes. 
These officers were often remunerated by holdings of land, 
and a class of land-tenures will be found in some parts of 
India owing its origin to these hereditary official holdings. 
Not only so, but during the decline which Oriental 
governments have usually undergone, the Revenue officials 
have been commonly found to merge in, or be superseded 
by, revenue-farmers persons who contracted for a certain 
sum of revenue to be paid into the Treasury from a given 
area, as representing the State dues exigible from the land- 
holdings within that area. Such revenue-farmers, or 
officials, whatever their origin, have always tended to 
absorb the interests of the land-holders 1 and to become in 
time the virtual landlords over them. 

Nor is it only that landlord tenures arise in this way. 
No sooner does the superior right take shape than we find 
many curious new tenures created by the landlord or 
arising out of his attempts to conciliate or provide for 
certain eminent claims in the grade below him. 

5. Effects of Assignment or Remission of Land-Revenue. 

Yet another class of tenures arises in connection with the 
State Revenue-administration ; and that is when the ruler 
either excuses an existing land-holder from paying his re- 
venue, either wholly or in part ; or ' alienates ' or assigns 
the revenue of a certain estate or tract of country in favour 
of some chief, or other person of importance, or to provide 
funds for some special objects, or to serve as a recompense 
for services to be rendered. 

1 See Maine, Early History of Institutions, p. 150. 


At first such grants are carefully regulated, are for life 
only, and strictly kept to their purpose, and to the amount 
fixed. But as matters go on, and the ruler is a bad or 
unscrupulous one, his treasury is empty, and he makes 
such grants to avoid the difficulty of finding a cash salary. 
The grants become permanent and hereditary ; they are also 
issued by officials who have no right to make them ; and 
not only do they then result in landlord tenures and 
other curious rights, but are a burden to after times, 
and have furnished a most troublesome legacy to our 
own Government when it found the revenues eaten up by 
grantees whose titles were invalid, and whose pretensions, 
though grown old in times of disorder, were inadmissible. 

Such grants may have begun with no title to the land 
but only a right to the revenue, but want of supervision 
and control has resulted in the grantee seizing the landed 
right also. Here we have another ' common factor ' which 
has everywhere been at work the influence of State 
organization and revenue systems on landholding. 

6. Superimposition of Landed Rights. 

The mention of tenures arising out of official relations 
with the land and revenue-farming, reminds us that these 
tenures do not always, or even generally, arise over un- 
occupied lands, or where there are no pre-existing interests. 
They strike, in fact, the key-note of ' superimposition ' 
and 'modification'; one set of tenures supervening on 
another and producing changes. 

This will not be understood as leading the reader to 
suppose that the great historic conquests with their new 
systems of government produced any radical or wholesale 
disruption of the previous state of things, as the Roman 
conquest did in Europe. The changes were gradual and 
often insensible ; the modified tenures were not the result of 
any defined purpose to change, or any distinct principle 
which was enforced. They represented an indefinite sort of 
compromise between old facts and new conditions: still 

H 2 


there was modification. For example ; a man represents 
the family of the leader of a party of colonizers who founded 
'a Bengal village generations ago. As such he is the vir- 
tual, though not legally defined, proprietor of the best 
lands in the village formed by the groups of colonists. 
But time goes on, and a State ' Zamindar ' arises to con- 
tract for the revenues, and gradually destroys the rights 
under him ; but the man we have spoken of is strong 
enough or respected enough to influence even the ' Zamin- 
dar,' who thereon gives him a writing acknowledging or 
granting to him a perpetual tenure at a fixed and unalter- 
able rent. Practically the man is as well off as he was 
before perhaps better ; but it is impossible to deny that 
the colour of his tenure is changed. 

Or again, let us go back to an early cultivating settle- 
ment, perhaps in the days of the Gond or other ancient 
kingdoms. Even this represents a somewhat advanced 
stage, for before the ideas of the people had got to appre- 
ciate a definite right to clear and cultivate permanently 
a given area, there must have been a previous stage of 
nomadic and shifting cultivation in the forest. But let 
that pass. The village may remain for centuries in this 
stage. The different members all claim their own cleared 
holdings, and perhaps one or two leading men hold a here- 
ditary headship with certain customary powers and privi- 
leges. The time however comes when it is conquered by 
a marauding Rajput clan, or interfered with by some of the 
indigenous princes converted to Hinduism and adopting 
Aryan ideas of government ; or the Raja or chief makes' 
a grant of the village to some member of his family. In 
short, a landlord is found for the village. The lord dies and 
is succeeded by sons and grandsons. A change in the village 
constitution thus occurs. The family form a ' community ' 
jointly claiming to own the whole. They have themselves 
cleared and cultivated the surrounding waste ; they have 
bought up some of the older cultivated lands, and got rid of 
the holders of others, and the relics of the original village 
body that remain are now the 'tenants' of the superior 


family. This landlord family, or 'proprietary body,' is at 
first closely united ; all have equal rights, and they do not 
divide. But in time quarrels arise, and a desire for sepa- 
rate enjoyment grows. The ' community ' then divide the 
land into major and minor shares or lots, but still hold 
together and have certain common rights and the waste in 
common. This state of things is, however, in its turn 
affected by the Muhammadan conquest and by the or- 
ganized system which the Mughal Empire introduced. Not 
so much at first: they are ruthlessly assessed to a full 
revenue, and this a little damps their pretensions ; they 
are more and more evidently graded as peasant- proprietors, 
that is all. But in time the proprietary body find their 
rights ignored ; a revenue-farmer first acts as their landlord, 
and ends by calling himself so, till his descendants are 
found, after a generation or two, talking about their ' an- 
cient rights ' under the ' law and constitution of the coun- 
try ! ' The old village rights have disappeared altogether. 

Then come Maratha plunderers, Rohilla adventurers, or 
an advance of Sikh clans. All fasten on the land, and all 
devise some scheme of making a profit out of it, which in 
the end affects the land-tenures. 

7. Effect of Modern Laws. 

Lastly, the British rule comes upon the confusion and 
ruin caused by centuries of such changes. Able adminis- 
trators, often actuated by the highest motives, but necessarily 
guided by the ideas which are natural to their age and 
antecedents, endeavour to settle landed rights and the 
revenues of the State on some equitable system. They 
perceive that the result of all that has gone before has been 
not merely to efface old tenures, and substitute new 
interests in their places, but rather to leave traces of several 
different rights, and to impose, as it were, layer upon layer 
of interests, each revealing itself in varying degrees of 
strength or preservation. 

In dealing with such a state of things many mistakes are 


made. Tenures are not understood, or are misunderstood ; 
faulty systems of revenue-assessment and collection are 
adopted, and great distress and much injustice result. In 
the end matters slowly right themselves ; and then it is 
desired to fix by law, in a definite manner, the principles 
on which rights are to be enjoyed and the form in which 
they are to be secured and recorded. The task is one of 
great difficulty : as its accomplishment progresses, diverg- 
ence of authorities occurs, evidence is found conflicting, and 
public opinion changes. With the best intention of avoid- 
ing special theories, Western terms and the principles of 
Western jurisprudence make their influence felt, and the 
last stage in modification of the old order is only reached 
when the British legislation, earnestly desiring to do 
practical justice to all classes of rights, establishes, confers 
and consolidates rights, defining and classifying them as 
best it may, calling this man a landlord and that a tenant, 
and shading off the intermediate claims into defined grades 
of ' inferior-proprietor,' ' tenure-holder,' ' occupancy-tenant,' 
and what not ; trying always to provide equitably, but not 
always succeeding in doing so, in order that no really sur- 
viving rights may be ignored. 

8. Effects of Economic Conditions. 

Nor must we attribute all modification to historical events 
and legislative efforts. All the time economic conditions 
are silently bearing their part in modifying ideas and cus- 
toms of land-holding. Originally the foundation of every 
one's interest in land, whether it is the king's, or the landlord- 
family's, or the cultivator's, is the grain heap, the natural 
produce, divided by some process or another, in kind. 

But as cultivation occupies more and more of the area, 
and waste for new tillage diminishes, population increases, 
and farms become more and more subdivided. No doubt 
subdivision means increased care and effort bestowed on 
the land, the increase of works of irrigation and the use of 
manure, and thus the produce is largely increased ; but this 


cannot go on for ever, and the time comes when the shares 
of the produce for the different parties cannot all be taken. 
For the share which meets the expense of cultivation and 
feeds and clothes the ploughman, remains a constant, at any 
rate a not diminishing quantity, and the surplus from each 
diminished holding becomes less. Meanwhile coined money 
comes into common use, and the king or the chief, instead 
of facing the inevitable and reducing his grain share to a 
lower fraction, seizes on the fact that he can take coin 
instead of grain. Grain shares are given up, and money 
payments adjusted in the rough, and without attempting 
a valuation of the actual produce, still less of appraising 
the acres according to their different productive capacities. 
This changes the relations of cultivator and over-lord, and 
modifies the whole basis of agricultural society. 'Rent,' 
' enhancement,' ' competition,' or their equivalent phrases 
begin to be talked of. When population increases also, 
land ceases to be over-abundant, the race to secure land 
for cultivation begins, and not as before to coax cultivators 
to the land. Waste is increasingly broken up and new 
forms of tenure depending on arrangements for utilizing 
the waste land multiply. Here again is a new field for 
settled law and orderly administration to define, to regu- 
late, and to protect. 

9. Resume. 

Let us now gather up these various heads of study, and 
we may arrange our subjects for a ' general view ' in the 
following order : 

(1) The village and its modifications. 

(2) Tenures arising from official position, State grants, 

and assignment or remission of State revenue, 
as well as for the conversion of revenue-farmers 
or collecting agencies into proprietors and pro- 
prietary bodies. 

(3) The grades of land-right resulting from the super- 

position, by conquest or otherwise, of new layers 
of interest in the soil. 


(4) The growth and present position of what has be- 

come ' cultivating tenancies ' under the newly 
recognized landlords. 

(5) To these I shall add a section containing some 

general ideas regarding ' property ' in land as it 
is understood in India. This is a sort of epi- 
sode or collateral subject, the consideration of 
which is rendered necessary by every remark 
we make on land-tenures. 


i. Existing accounts of the Village. 

Considering the very great interest which attaches to the 
VILLAGF, as it is found under its varied conditions and 
with its different origins, in different parts of India, it is 
surprising to find that it is practically impossible to put 
one's hand on a single book that has collected and reduced 
to shape the information which exists in Settlement Reports 
and local and special papers and minutes, official and 
other *. 

The only detailed attempt to account for the village 
constitution I have met, is in Mr. Phillips' Tagore Lectures 
for 1874-5. The author has set about, with his usual skill 
and industry, to collect facts from different sources; but 
unfortunately he has been dominated with the idea that 
villages are always ' Hindu,' and that there is one kind of 

1 In Dr. Field's valuable work a valuable paper by Sir G. Camp- 
on Landholding in various countries, bell, but it is too brief and general- 
very little is said about the villages ; ized to be altogether satisfactory. 
the perfect communities of the There are, of course, the valuable 
Panjab are hardly alluded to, and conclusions as to early forms of 
those of the North- West Provinces property, which Sir H. Maine has 
described only in extracts from made us familiar with in his Village 
some official Minutes, which, what- Communities and other works ; but 
ever may have been the ability of these do not, and do not profess to, 
their authors, still were written specially analyze the Indian village 
when the settlement enquiries under or give any details as to the actual 
the new system of 1822 had hardly facts of origin, constitution, and 
commenced, and when knowledge history, of the different types of 
on the subject was most elementary. village in the various countries of 

The Cobden Club Essays contain India. 


village only ; the consequence is that he tries to explain 
everything by the ideas of the much later Hindu law- 
books ; he pieces together various items of information 
gathered from totally different provinces ; and thereout 
evolves a picture of a single form of village constitution, 
which thus represents nothing that really exists, or ever 
did exist, as far as evidence goes. ' The village referred to 
in Manu 1 ' (he writes) ' was, we can hardly doubt, the well- 
known village community, the constitution and position of 
which are so important in the Hindu land system ; the 
village is, in fact, the key to that system.' ' From the 
slight reference to it in Manu,' he continues, ' we have to 
pass by a long stride of centuries, to what has been observed 
in such recent times as the period since British rule. It is 
from such observations, with the aid of analogies from 
similar institutions existing in modern times in other 
countries, that we have to construct the idea of the village 
community of Hindu times.' 

2. Remarks on the Quotation. Origin of Villages. 

But in order to get a notion how the village system 
arose and grew in early times, and how it has since been 
modified, it is necessary to throw away all theories and 
to observe and collate the facts as far as they can be 
established by evidence, carefully distinguishing different 
localities, and only generalizing when we have a safe basis. 

The first point to be noted is that there is no such 
thing- as one form of the 'well- known village community' ; 
and that the village-system should not be referred to 
Hindu law influences without a great deal of considera- 
tion at any rate, if by ' Hindu law ' we mean the later 
embodiment of modified custom in the now well-known 
commentaries and text-books. 

In the first place, as I have already remarked, there can 

1 Manava-dharma-sastra, or the version, that by Biihler, forming vol. 

Institutes of Manu, with the gloss xxv. of Triibner's series of Sacred 

of Kulluka Bhatta. I always refer Books of the East. See Phillips, Lect. 

to the best and most recent English I, p. 6. 


hardly be any doubt that the formation of village groups 
that is the aggregation of land-holdings in one place, and 
with a certain degree of union among the cultivators is not 
peculiar to Hindu races, either original or converted. It 
is found in India, among the great races which were cer- 
tainly antecedent to the Hindus, and which still survive 
(with their institutions) in widely distant parts of the 
country. The village apart from questions of particular 
forms is not so much the result of any system as it is of 
a natural instinct. We find it everywhere, especially in 
the plain country, where circumstances invited it ; at the 
same time, we do not find it in other places on the Hima- 
layan hill-sides, on the west coast (Kanara and Malabar) 
and in the dry regions of the Southern Panjab. In these 
latter situations we find individuals, or a few con- 
nected families with individual holdings ; the residences 
are separately located within the holdings, or perhaps (as 
on the west coast) a few family houses are arranged 
in a group ; and we find that on the west coast there is 
no word for ' village,' but the term for a family group of 
houses with its dependencies is some word such as 'tara/ 
meaning a ' street.' It is true that for Government pur- 
poses these holdings are artificially grouped into circles 
of some kind, and that some sort of headman, or chief over 
the circle, is recognized, partly as a matter of social con- 
venience, partly as a matter of State management with a 
view to the collection of revenue or taxes. 

But over the greater part of India aggregates of cultiva- 
tors forming regular villages are the rule, the other cases 
are the exception. 

3. Two types of Village distinguished. 

And then, there is not one type of village community, 
but two very distinct types, one of which, again, has 
marked and curious forms or varieties. And, without an- 
ticipating details, which must come later, I may say at once 
that these two types are distinct in origin. 


In the one type the aggregates of cultivators have no 
claim as a joint-body to the whole estate, dividing it 
among themselves on their own principles ; nor will they 
acknowledge themselves in any degree jointly liable for 
burdens imposed by the State. Each man owns his own 
holding, which he has inherited, or bought, or cleared from 
the original jungle. The waste surrounding the village is 
used for grazing and wood-cutting, but no one in the 
village claims it as his, to appropriate and cultivate without 
leave ; still less do the whole group claim it jointly, to 
partition when they please. 

In the other type owing to causes which we shall 
presently investigate a strong joint-body, probably de- 
scended (in many cases) from a single head, or single 
family, has pretensions to be of higher caste and supe- 
rior title to the ' tenants ' who live on the estate. The 
site on which the village habitations, the tank, the grave- 
yard, and the cat tie -stand are, is claimed by them ; and 
the others live in and use it only by permission per- 
haps on payment of small dues to the proprietary body. 
The same body claim jointly (whether or not they have 
separate enjoyment of portions) the entire area of the 
village l , both the cultivated land and the waste. If this 
waste is kept as such, they alone will receive and distribute 
any profits from grazing, sale of grass or jungle fruits or 
fisheries ; if it is rented to tenants, they will divide the 
rents ; if it is partitioned and broken up for tillage, each 
sharer will get his due portion. There are other differences, 
but these suffice for our immediate purpose. 

As a matter of fact, the first type of village is the 
one most closely connected with Hindu government and 
Hindu ideas. And the second type is found strongly 
developed among the Panjab frontier tribes who were con- 
verted to Muhammadanism : it is also universal among 
Jat, Gujar. and other tribes in the Central Panjab, as well 

1 There may be two or more such take the case of a simple village as 
bodies, each claiming a certain better expressing my point, 
known section of a village ; but I 


as among conquering Aryan tribes and descendants of 
chiefs and nobles in other parts. 

So much then for there being one general type of village 
to be described, and for that type being due to Hindu 
influences. In making the latter remark, I wish, however, 
to qualify it by adding that it is perfectly true that the 
second type of village does arise largely from those deep- 
seated archaic notions of family property and of the joint 
and equal inheritance of the members which have formed 
the basis of the later Hindu law, as much as they do that 
of the custom which governs the Panjab tribes. 

4. Sources of information regarding Villages. 

Let us now proceed to examine our sources of information 
as to the two types of village I have indicated, and see 
how such villages grew up and how they have been modified. 

5. Causes of Village grouping. 

It has been said that the idea of aggregating men in 
village groups for the purposes of agriculture is a matter of 
natural instinct ; so it is to a great extent 1 . Not only is it 
true that ' union is strength,' but the situation of villages 
in most parts of India was such as specially to call for 
some kind of union. In the first place, the early villages 
would be situated in the midst of often dense jungle ; and 
the depredations of deer and pig on the crops, and of the 
danger to human life from the larger beasts of the forest, 
are such as an English farmer could hardly realize. Then, 
too, there were adventurous armies on the move, hill- 
tribesmen and local robbers to be dreaded, to say nothing 
of the need of presenting an united front against forces 
employed by iniquitous revenue-farmers in the later days 
of misrule. 

1 And we shall hereafter find recent associations of enterprising 

evidence from several provinces settlers perfectly voluntary and 

that many villages owe their exist- quite unconnected with any tribal 

ence to more or less ancient or notions or dynastic changes. 


Nor were neighbouring villages always friendly to one 
another. It would often happen that a group of settle- 
ments on one side of a boundary would be at feud with 
those on the other, and union for defence became a normal 
condition on either side. 

It is not wonderful, therefore, that ' village grouping ' 
should have been adopted, where local circumstances suited 
it, by all races in India. 

And then there was another influence which tended to 
fix the institution, as well as to determine the size and 
composition of the groups. Some land-owning castes in 
parts of India still retain a distinct tribal organization. 
What happened in this respect with the earlier races we only 
know partially. But we 'have the example of tribes who 
settled in parts of the Panjab at a comparatively late date 
long after the Aryans and we find them not only 
forming villages, the holders of which have a strong joint- 
claim to the whole, but forming them on the plainly evident 
basis of tribal divisions and sub-divisions. First, we find 
an allotment of certain larger areas to whole tribes or 
clans, and then sub- divisions forming villages, the elders 
carrying out the scheme down to making a specific allot- 
ment for their several family holdings. Some villages are 
then clearly due to tribal instincts. And even among the 
Aryan tribes who had Rajas and chiefs over them, and among 
whom we cannot trace a detailed tribal allotment, we shall 
occasionally find certain clans or branches among whom no 
family was sufficiently predominant to furnish a Raja ; and 
among these we shall find villages divided up and allotted 
from the first on a tribal and family basis. 

In fact, we can follow out three conditions of the existence 
of villages. The first is where, as withDravidian and Aryan 
tribes, there is a central government and a series of terri- 
torial officers, but where the villages are aggregates of 
cultivators, and no principle of allotting the original 
village areas if there ever was any is now traceable, and 
where the village grouping appears to depend partly on 
the natural necessities of the population, partly on the 


State jurisdiction of headmen. The second is where we 
can trace the village back to the settlement of a clan or 
tribe, and have evidence of the formation of village groups 
and the allotment of lands on tribal principles from the 
first. The third is where a landlord-body, having acquired 
predominance in an existing village, or having founded a 
new one themselves, and being now represented by a more 
numerous body of descendants, the existing grouping and 
distribution of holdings is the result of joint-inheritance 
and partition. 

6. Villages how far 'joint.' The stages of property. 

It may not unnaturally be asked why are the two dis- 
tinct types of village spoken of not always recognized and 
kept apart by Revenue writers 1 I think it is due to the 
fact that they have been too often regarded as if one was 
only some kind of modification of the other. Even if it 
were so, it would not justify us in overlooking the distinc- 
tion that certainly now exists ; but the existence of such 
an opinion gives me an opportunity of introducing some 
remarks that ought to be made at an early stage, regarding 
ideas of 'joint property' and 'communities/ as these terms 
are applied to villages. 

It is commonly said that property in land passes through 
three stages. First, it is held by the tribe or clan, and is 
regarded as the common property of the whole body. 
Holdings indeed are allotted or recognized, because without 
that agricultural labour could not be performed ; but pe- 
riodically the holdings are exchanged or redistributed, 
showing (it is said) that no one regards any particular 
field as his private property. The next stage is reached 
when redistribution is abandoned, because each several 
holding that of the man with his sons, has become improved, 
and each family desires to retain permanently its own. But 
still the paterfamilias is not the individual owner : he cannot 
sell or will away the holding. He must share it equally 
with his sons if he makes a partition, and on his death it 


will go to all sons equally, or to all other heirs if there 
are no surviving sons. 

That is said to be the stage when property vests in the 
family. This stage evidently subsists to a great extent in 
most parts of India. The Hindu law and local custom (as I 
have mentioned) recognize a joint succession, and provide 
some other rules which I need not here allude to, for keep- 
ing the property in one family. 

But gradually the desire to profit by one's own skill and 
labour individualizes property. A number of things con- 
duce to this end. Family quarrels are an unfortunate but 
very common factor. Differences of taste and agricultural 
capability also have their sphere. Coined money comes into 
use, and men begin to buy and sell land. Finally, families 
break up, and individual ownership, such as we see it in 
Europe, with or without the last restraints and survivals of 
the preceding stage, is the third or final condition. 

These stages must certainly be borne in mind in any 
attempt to account for Indian villages. At the same time 
it must be clearly stated that we have no actual evidence 
of the first stage evidence, I mean, showing that univer- 
sally at one time, there was no such thing as individual 
or even a family right, but that the whole tribe or clan 
regarded the land as really ' common ' in a communistic 
or socialist sense. 

It is true that we have ample evidence of a primal 
custom of re-distributing the holdings in particular tribes ; 
but it always followed a distinct allotment of lands, and an 
allotment which showed that there was a desire to equalize 
the holdings, and not give all the best to some and the 
inferior to others. It is, therefore, open to us to inter- 
pret the distribution, not so much as indicating a com- 
munistic idea of property as indicating a desire to equalize. 
For after all devices (and very inconvenient devices we 
shall find them to have been) adopted by the tribesmen for 
classifying lands, and giving families a bit of this and a bit 
of that, instead of one compact lot in one place, still 
inequality was not completely remedied, and therefore a 


periodic interchange may have been intended rather to give 
each his turn at the best and inferior holdings x . 

If we look to the earliest villages found under the Aryans, 
or before that, we have no evidence (other than that of the 
re-distribution, which I do not regard as conclusive) of 
a tribal stage; and even among the later Panjab tribes, 
where tribal occupation and allotment are clearly discern- 
ible, any previous stage of the joint holding by the tribe 
collectively, hardly seems deducible from the known facts. 

But we certainly must recognize that, as regards most 
villages, property is still in the 'family' stage. The principle 
of joint succession when the head of the family deceases, is 
clearly an indication of ' family ' property, and so are the 
devices of excluding females (who marry, and so would take 
the land into another family), the restrictions on alienation 
by sonless male proprietors, and the right of pre-emption 
by which strangers can be kept out. 

And it may be argued that this idea of the family own- 
ing is necessarily the sequel of an earlier idea of a common 
holding by the tribe or clan. Those who think so point to 
certain large areas in the Panjab, now forming separate 
villages, which were once believed to have formed units of 
tribal holdings divided into shares 2 . I do not then wish to 
deny the possibility of some early stage of joint tribal hold- 
ing, but to point out that it is a theory, and not a matter 
that can be asserted with any approach to certainty. 

1 We have no evidence of any such qu'on puisse proceder a un nouveau 

stage as mentioned by M. de Lave- partage,' &c. Still less have we 

leye, pp. 4, 5, 17) : ' Peu a peu une any trace of Virgil's 'Golden Age' 

partie de la terre est momentane- (Georg. i. 125 > : 

ment mise en culture, et la regime 'AnteJovemnullisubigebantarva 

agricole s'etablit : mais la territoire coloni ; 

que le clan ou la tribu occupe de- Nee signare quidein aut partiri 

meure sa propriete indivise. La limite campum 

terre arable, le paturage et le foret Fas erat: in medio quaerebant ; 

sont exploites en commun. Plus ipsaque tellus 

tard, la terre cultivee est divisee Omnia liberius, nullo poscente, 

en lots, repartis entre les families ferebat.' 

par voie du sort : 1'usage temporaire 2 See some curious instances given 

est seul attribue ainsi a 1'individu. in Tupper's Customary Laic (Panjab 

Le fonds continue a rester la pro- Government, 5 vols.) regarding the 

priete collective du clan a qu'il fait Jihlam district, 
retour de temps ^en temps, afin 


7. Meaning of the term ' Community.' 

And this leads me to remark that though we talk about 
' village communities,' we ought not to give that term any 
meaning of such a kind as to indicate anything like a 
communistic or socialistic right or interest. As regards 
a large proportion of villages there is no evidence what- 
ever of their being held actually in common in that sense. 
Villages held for a time in common are always so held by 
the joint descendants of a conqueror or chief who in some 
way acquired the estate. The descendants are jealously 
disposed to insist on equal privileges and position, and so 
remain joint as long as circumstances render it possible. 
I have come across a few instances where a tribe (in the 
Panjab) has from the first held a part of the land in com- 
mon, but there it is due to local circumstances, and the 
produce is always divided out according to certain shares. 
The term ' community ' might, if not explained, be apt 
to mislead. It can be correctly used only with reference to 
the fact that in many villages families live together under 
a system which makes them joint owners ; while in others 
the people merely live under similar conditions and under 
a sense of tribal or caste connection, and with a common 
system of local government. It cannot be used as suggest- 
ing any idea of having the land or anything else 'in 

8. Kinds of right actually found to be asserted. 

But whatever the truth may be in this matter, we are 
introduced at a very early stage to the existence of an idea 
of an individual (or rather family) right to the land in 
favour of the person who cleared and reclaimed it from the 
jungle. In such a situation as the forest-clad, or again the 
very dry, portions of India, it is hardly surprising that this 
feeling should have arisen at a very early stage and rapidly 
gained ground. There are of course places where the soil 
is soft and the labour of preparing it for its first ploughing 

VOL. I. I 


is comparatively light. But in large areas the most severe 
and protracted labour has to be undergone in getting the 
dense forest and jungle cleared, and in digging out masses of 
stumps and roots, with no aid beyond manual labour, and 
very rude if not inefficient tools. And this labour has to be 
unremittingly continued or the jungle again encroaches. 
In other parts, agriculture is impossible without embanking 
and terracing fields on the hill side, and making water 
courses to divert the streams of hill torrents. In all 
these cases the man (or family) whose hands and funds have 
effected the change, is sure, at an early stage, to regard 
himself, and be regarded by others, as peculiarly entitled. 
In the concluding section on property we shall find that at 
least 500 years B.C. the Institutes of Manu had acknow- 
ledged this principle, and it is highly improbable that it 
was then a new idea inscribed in the text for the first time. 

I have said that right resides in the family, though 
the sentiment is slowly disappearing. The principle just 
spoken of does not militate against this. For it is the man 
and his relations together, who ' cleared ' the fields ; and to 
this day in the most purely raiyativdri villages, where 
nothing but the most ancient several holding is traceable, 
the sons or other heirs succeed jointly to the holding. And 
as for the cases where (as in the Panjab) we see the tribes 
allotting land to families who hold separately, but in village 
groups ; or where (as in villages acquired in landlord right 
by families) there is at first a joint holding by all the mem- 
bers collectively, we are obviously in the ' family ' stage. 

Eut while we see especially the influence of the ' right of 
the first clearer ' in one type of village where the individual 
or family holdings are all separate, and never were (as far 
as we know) anything else ; we also see an idea of right by 
conquest which is not so called, but is distinguished as 
the l birthright ' or claim by inheritance. It prevails in 
villages of the second type where, between the ruling 
power and the cultivating families, there is a landlord, or 
a family claiming superior rights as owners. How these 
landlords came to have such rights we shall presently see. 


Here the object of these remarks is to disabuse the reader's 
mind of the idea that in some way a 'joint ' village is 
necessarily the earliest or original type, and that it is a 
process of decay and flux of time, whereby joint rights are 
forgotten, and the other type (which I have suggested to be 
really the oldest) arises. That cases of decay, by which one 
form passes into the other, have occurred, I do not doubt ; 
but it is not the general rule. We shall also see the joint 
villages partitioned, splitting up, and becoming individual 
properties, but that again is quite a different and easily 
recognizable condition. 

9. Successive immigrations into India. 

It is well known that India has been the scene of a series 
of tribal immigrations a phenomenon which stretches 
back into the remote past. Antiquarians will long con- 
tinue to explore such authorities as the Brdhmanas for 
evidence as to the successive races, some coming from the 
north, others by sea from the west. But in a work of this 
kind, I must avoid the path of antiquarian speculation, 
however tempting, and leave the real detail to others. 
For our present purpose we shall find it sufficient to take 
note of three great races, those whose effect on the land- 
tenures is evident. One of the early races, which still sur- 
vives, is the Kolarian (or, as some write it, Kolharian). 
Tribes belonging to this race are still to be found in South- 
western Bengal, and in Central India along the Vindhyan 
mountains. Their origin I cannot discuss, but they were 
followed by Dravidian tribes, whose rule they often 
accepted. The Kol races are still represented by the Ho 
and Munda tribes in the Chutiya Nagpur division of 
Bengal, by some primitive tribes called Korwa in the same 
country, and by the Hors of Singhbhum. The Bhumij and 
the Santal people, who settled in what are known as the 
' Santal Parganas ' of Bengal, belong to the same race. 
Along the Vindhyan hills these races are traced in the 
Kols of Gujarat, the Bhils of Malwa. the Kuars of Ellichpur 

I 2 


(in Berar), and the Kurku tribe of Hushangabad in the 
Northern-Central Provinces. To the present day they 
represent various stages of tribal progress. 

The Kolarian races hardly interest us from the tenure- 
point of view so much as the Dravidians except in this 
respect that, while some of these tribes mixed with the 
Dravidians and submitted to their government, others 
remained distinct, and still remain, to show us all grada- 
tions of tribal progress. Some are still nomadic, living 
only in the forest by hunting and collecting forest produce, 
and if they practise cultivation, it is by that method of 
shifting or temporary cultivation which is common in 
many parts of India. 

10. Shifting Cultivation in the Hill Forests. 

As this shifting cultivation marks the first stage in pro- 
gress from the pastoral and hunting stage, I may briefly 
describe the method adopted. The tribes who practise it, 
commence by selecting a suitable site on not too steep a 
slope, and cutting down all the smaller tree and shrub 
vegetation, which is heaped on the ground to dry during 
the hot season. The larger trees are killed by ringing ; the 
rest is burned. As soon as the rains fall, the ashes mixed 
with seed usually hill-rice, pulses, and (in places) cotton 
are dibbled into the ground. One crop is taken, perhaps 
followed by a second, on the same place, and then the tribe 
moves to a new locality. They return to the first only 
after a period sufficient for the vegetation to grow up 
again. If space is ample and the tribes not numerous, 
it may be twenty, thirty, or forty years before the same place 
is cut again. But where the population is denser, and 
space limited, the rotation is reduced to ten or even seven 
years, and less. 

In Burma we shall see an instance of this form of culti- 
vation becoming organized, and evidently on the way to 
change into settled land-holding 1 . 

1 Shifting cultivation is practised under the name of 'jum' (and 
largely in Assam and Eastern Bengal many other tribal names). It is 


ii. The Kol Institutions. 

The Kol tribes do not appear to have had any central 
government. Their village settlements when they were of 
a permanent character were united in tribal areas, as were 
those of the Dravidians, and known as ' parha ' in that part 
of India where they still survive. A chief or ' manki ' pre- 
sided over the parha. In each village, a hereditary head- 
man called ' munda ' was acknowledged. The final reference 
was to the mdnki, or to the mankis in council united with 
the mundds and chief land-holders. This resembles the 
Dravidian form, so clearly traceable in South India, where 
the village or other family groups were aggregated into 
unions called 'nad' or ' nadu," with some kind of chief, acting 
alone as regards the nad, or in council with the other chiefs 
in affairs affecting the whole country. Nothing under this 
system indicates that the village land-holder claimed any 
other right than to hold his own clearing. The munda, 
Mr. Hewitt informs us, disposed of lapsed or abandoned 
holdings ; and probably no theory as to general right in 
unoccupied land existed, except possibly that it belonged 
to the ; parha ' representing the original territory allotted 
to a tribal section. In time each village expanded by new 
cultivation ; hamlets, offshoots of existing villages, spread- 
ing into the waste. 

No regular system of revenue can be traced, but the 
munda and the manki held lands in their respective villages, 
and gifts of grain the early forerunner of the regular grain 
share were received. 

12. The Dravidian Races. 

These tribes are said to have come from the west, and 
undoubtedly spread over a great part of India. They 

a great feature in the forests of taken place is ' punzo '). In South 

Burma where forest officers have India it is Kumri or Kumeri (Cana- 

carefully to deal with the custom, rese) or podu in Telugu. In the 

and arrange grounds for its prac- Central Provinces it is ' dahya ' or 

tice. In Burma it is called ' toung- ' bewar.' It was formerly known 

ya ' (and the tangled jungle that in the Simla hills, 
springs up where a cutting has 


established great kingdoms in South and Central India, 
and it is difficult to say how far their influence extended. 
It appears, for instance, that the Takshakas, a race which 
occupied the northern-central regions of the Panjab, and 
were snake worshippers, were Dravidians. The Central 
Provinces and Berar were peopled by Gonds or Khonds, 
who were Dravidians and the Central Provinces ' Zamin- 
dari estates ' are the surviving traces of the chiefships held 
by Gond nobles. These people left more than others a 
strong mark, because they had a central government a 
king whose territories were in the centre, and chiefs holding 
the outer circle of estates like the Aryans. It is fairly 
certain that the Dravidians were partly conquered and 
partly peaceably mingled with the Aryan races who came 
afterwards. They had the habit of educating their children ; 
hence Brahmans of the literary Aryan stock were welcomed, 
and thus it was that while the Sanskrit language adopted 
those peculiar letters, which are found in none of the 
Europaeo-Aryan tongues, in time the Dravidian princes 
took Brahman counsellors, adopted Hinduism, and often 
took Hindu names and called themselves Rajputs, with 
fanciful genealogies derived from the heroes of the Mahd- 
bhdrata l . Dravidian tenures and institutions still survive 
in Chutiya Nagpur side by side with the Kolarian. The 
Uraoas, who conquered and gave their name to Orissa, were 
also Dravidians. 

Some interesting details will be found in the chapters in 
the Bengal section devoted to Orissa and Chutiyd Nagpur 2 . 

As already stated, the Dravidians had a central govern- 
ment of a king or Raja the original title has perished 
and chiefs. They occupied (as far as the Kol countries are 
concerned) lands already cultivated. What is interesting 

1 The Dravidians are also repre- 2 The vernacular terms given in 

sented by the Bhars who had im- the text in connection with these 

portant kingdoms in Oudh, and re- institutions are those which now 

present the ' Bharata ' tribes of the obtain in the South-west of Bengal, 

Brdhmanas. It is curious also to where the institutions are still 

note the Burman institutions which most clearly in evidence. Simi- 

show a Dravidian origin. Dra- lar institutions survive elsewhere, 

vidian institutions have also been and of course the names are dif- 

observed in Sumatra. ferent. 


about them, besides the system of Rajas and chiefs, which 
is thus a pre- Aryan organization, is, that at first the chiefs 
raised their principal revenue by holding special lands in 
each village throughout the country ; the whole produce 
being taken by the ruler. The villages were divided into 
lots called ' Khunt.' One of these was the ' majhas ' land 
or royal farm spoken of ; another went to the headman, and 
another to the ' pahan ' or priest ; this being subdivided 
into shares for the worship of the great goddess, the district 
god, and the village deity respectively. After a time the 
kings, not feeling satisfied with the ' majhas ' produce, 
took a grain-share also, from all lands except the priest's, 
and the headman's ; and then it was that some further 
changes took place. The king first introduced a State 
headman or accountant called ' Mahto,' who speedily 
reduced to a shadow the position of the old ' Munda ' or 
natural headman. Of course the ' Mahto ' got his allot- 
ment of land : and the lands held by the ' bhuinhar ' families 
those of the original settlers who furnished the headman 
and other chief men including the Mahto, were exempt 
from revenue. In this stage, the king also, to provide for 
the cultivation of the royal farm or 'majhhas' land, made 
an allotment (betkhe'ta) to certain cultivators, which was 
exempt from revenue, on condition that they should work 
the ' majhhas ' lands. Then it was that, excepting the lands 
of the bhuinhar officials and the ' betkhe'ta,' all other land 
paid a share to the king or chief, and so was called ' Raj has ' 

13. How far the Aryans copied the Dravidian 

It is certainly a remarkable fact, that while we know 
the Aryan races to have been originally a pastoral race, 
but including a strong military caste, the institution of 
the Raja and his chiefs forming a sort of feudal govern- 
ment, as well as taking a grain-share by way of revenue, 
were apparently in existence before the Aryans came. 


This fact has led Mr. J. F. Hewitt to study the whole 
question. This author has had exceptional facilities for 
examining the evidence on the spot, having long resided in 
the Central Provinces, and also been Commissioner of the 
Chutiya JMagpur division of Bengal l . 

Seeing the undoubted influence that the Dravidian and 
Aryan races had on one another, and that something must 
have brought about the change in the Aryans from a con- 
quering and pastoral people to a settled ruling race, with an 
orderly government and village cultivation and a regular 
hierarchy of officials over the land ; it is at least a probable 
explanation to suggest that they simply copied the Dra- 
vidian institutions which they found ready to hand. On 
the other side, it may be urged that the plan of forming 
villages is a natural one, and that taking a grain-share is 
also natural. We see it among the Arabians. (The early 
Muhammadan plan was that of the tithe, or 'ashr, paid by 
the faithful, and the ' khiraj,' or tribute taken from the 
conquered, and both probably in kind.) 2 But I must leave 
the question an open one. At any rate, we have a very 
perfect coincidence, amply justifying a prominent notice 
in this place. We must admit that, whether or no the 
Aryans could have had the 'grain-share' idea of revenue by 
nature, they certainly found it practised when they came. 

I must also add that the Dravidian institution of the 
' Majhhas ' lands explains the prevalence of ' Koyal ' lands 
or farms in Burma, and in many parts of India, where, for 
instance in Coorg, we also find it, the land being worked by 
slaves. It seems to have been at one time adopted in Mala- 
bar, and perhaps affords one (alternative) explanation 

1 See on the subject of the of the one-fifth produce taken by the 
tribes,0unningham,^4wciew< Geography Pharaohs is familiar. Having ac- 
(Triibner, 1871) pp. 505 7. and Mr. quired the land in exchange for 
Hewitt's paper in the Journal of the food during the protracted famine, 
Society of Arts for May 6, 1887 (vol. the ruler could not of course dis- 
xxxv. p. 613) and subsequent pense with the original cultivators ; 
papers in the Journal of the Royal so he left them in possession, stipu- 
Asiatic Society, April 1890. lating for an annual fifth of the 

2 And so in the remote times of produce (Gen. xlvii. 20-24). 
the Old Testament. The instance 


of the fact that the king did not take a general land- 
revenue. There is also no doubt, to my mind, that the 
' watan,' or land held ex officio by village headmen of 
which we shall presently hear is a distinct Dravidian 

In short, when our books speak of the pre-Muhammadan 
government and land organization as ' ancient Hindu,' it is 
really a fusion of Aryan and Dravidian ideas which they 
refer to ; a system the original elements of which can hardly 
be separated. 

14. The Aryan Immigration. 

Notwithstanding the question of origin alluded to, I 
shall speak of the Aryan or Hindu system when 
referring to the revenue-system which preceded the Mu- 
hammadan conquest, chiefly because the Aryan and Dravi- 
dian races merged into one another, and also because the 
system is more perfectly preserved to us through Aryan 
writings, and is most clearly exhibited to us in the Aryan 
(Rajput) states, where it has found an enthusiastic historian 
in Colonel Tod, whose well-known Rajasthdn fortunately 
reprinted is a mine of information on the subject. 

So that the Aryan immigration is really, for our special 
purpose, the most important. To this we will now turn. 

At some remote period one of the great waves of im- 
migration brought a race from the North-west, which was 
originally pastoral ; it is believed that their taking to 
settled agriculture was a later development, and may 
perhaps be traced to the time when they began to leave 
the hill kingdoms which they first occupied where culti- 
vation was limited to narrow valleys or terraced fields 
on the mountain-side and descend to the wider spaces of 
the alluvial plains of Upper India. It is certain that 
such a change did take place. There can be no reasonable 
doubt that the Aryan tribesmen at first established them- 
selves, with their chiefs, along the Himalayan slopes in 
Kashmir, in the hills now forming the Chamba State, and 


in the hills near Simla. In the Kangra district (Panjab 
Himalaya) we find a distinct tradition that the present 
Rajput chiefs and landholders were only the successors of 
a much earlier race of Hindu settlers and conquerors, they 
themselves having occupied land in those hills at a period 
no earlier than the beginning of the Muhammadan con- 
quest, when they fled from oppression. In Chamba and in 
Kashmir there are stone temples marking colonies of great 
antiquity. In the latter valley many ruins like those cele- 
brated ones of Martand are Buddhist ; but in Chamba the 
old conical stone temples, with their finials resembling a 
grooved or fluted and flattened sphere (called by Fergusson 
the ' Amlika '), may go back to a really ancient establish- 
ment of the princes and people who afterwards conquered 
India, and fought in the battles which have been half 
mythically, half historically, described in the epic of the 
Mahabharata. It is common to find in books, statements 
to the effect that after a long sojourn perhaps of centuries 
in the hills, they descended on to the 'plains of the 
Panjab.' But the Aryans at first did not descend far, if at 
all, into the Panjab plains 1 properly so called. The 
Rajput bodies now found there are all, by tradition, later 
settlements ; princes, with their followers, or individual 
adventurers (whose descendants have since multiplied into 
clans) returned from kingdoms established further on into 

1 We have no old Hindu remains races, but that was later. I do not 

in the Panjab plains ; but the Greek venture here to discuss what was 

writers tell us of a number of the origin or date of the Jat tribes 

(Aryan) kingdoms to the north (near and many others who form so large 

the hills), and beside them we a portion of the Panjab village 

have traces of tribes of non- Aryan population, but they certainly were 

origin, viz. the Malli, Cathoei and much later than the Aryan immi- 

other tribes (of the Greek authors) gration, and they were not Aryans in 

to the south and east, and the that sense. Dr. Muir (Sanskrit Texts, 

Takshakas or Takkas who had their ii. 482, &c.) cites passages from the 

capital at Takashila i^Taxiles of the Mahabharata which confirm this. 

Greeks) not far from Rawalpindi. The people 'who dwell between the 

Presumably Poms (Purusha) was five rivers which are associated 

an Aryan prince, but his conflict with the Sindhu (Indus' as a sixth' 

with Alexander was on the Jihlam are ' those impure Bahikas who are 

river, and that is not far from outcast from righteousness.' ' Let 

the hills which the Rajputs cer- no Aryan dwell there even for two 

tainly occupied. In time, too, Aryan days. There dwell degraded Brah- 

families allied themselves with the mans. . . . They have no Veda nor 

Panjab tribes and formed mixed Vedic ceremony nor any sacrifice.' 


Hindustan. But the site of the first Aryan settlement in 
the plains of India was to the north-west of Delhi, in the 
vicinity of the Jamna river, where they established king- 
doms of which Hastinapura is a historic example and 
thence they spread over the North -West Provinces and 
Oudh (properly Awadh the ancient Ayodhya). The ad- 
vance could not stop here. Although the old writers 
attempted to describe ' the country where the antelope was 
found' as the proper abode of the Aryans and this phrase 
points to the open plains about the Jamna and Ganges 
the tribes or clans gradually advanced over Bengal and 
Bihdr *, and conquering portions of them, at any rate ob- 
tained a kingdom in Orissa z ; others went to Central, and 
perhaps to Southern India ; others conquered Guzarat in 
Northern Bombay, where their remains are found to the 
present day. The group of states now known as Rajpu- 
tana and Kathiawar, represent the last refuge of these clans 
at a time when the Muhammadan conquest began to disturb 
them. It is impossible to state in what order these con- 
quests and settlements occurred, except that they were after 
the primal settlement in the region of the Jamna. 

Pure Aryan settlements were,however,not the only feature 
of the immigration ; it is certain that many alliances both 
political and social early took place 3 . Dravidian and 
Aryan rapidly mingled, both as to race, language, and 
forms of government ; and the influence of their religious, 
social, and political system spread in other ways. Brah- 
mans travelled to the remotest parts, and soon, as I have 
said, converted the Dravidian chiefs to Hindu ideas and 
made them ' Rajputs.' In reading accounts of the southern 
kingdoms the CheVa, Chola, and Pandyan dynasties, in 
the Madras territories, or the states on the west coast, now 

1 A distinct legend describes how 2 vols. 

the ancestor of the Videhas of Bihar 3 Mr. Hewitt has endeavoured to 

set out bearing the sacred fire with trace many of these movements 

him towards Bihar. and alliances in his interesting 

1 As set forth by Stirling in the papers on the Early History of Northern 

Asiatic Researches, an authority ren- India. Journal R. A. S., vol. xx. 

dered more accessible to us in the July 1888, and vol. xxi. April 1889. 
graphic pages of Hunter's Orissa, 


called Kanara and Malabar it is impossible to feel certain 
whether we are to read through the records of Brahmanical 
authors, that the princes and chiefs were actually Rajput 
immigrants, or were (as is more probable) local Dravidian 
princes who had adopted the Hindu system. It is quite 
certain that the Gond kingdoms of Central India, and the 
Assam dynasty in the north-east, were ' Hinduized ' in this 
way, and we shall see the same thing in south-west 

Then, again, in spite of caste prohibitions and a great 
strictness in marriage rules observed by the purest families, 
it is quite certain that the Aryans mixed freely with other 
tribes, their predecessors, and that tribes of half-blood 
multiplied rapidly; some of them, at least, would be 
Hindu and claim to be Rajput. Among the Jats of the 
Panjab, for example, while some of the clans assert a 
separate tribal immigration from beyond what is now 
Afghanistan, others declare they are Rajputs who lost 
caste by adopting irregular marriage customs. There are 
castes in the North-west Himalaya who are known to be of 
this mixed origin, and very sturdy races they are. The 
Bihar people are probably a mixture of the antecedent 
' Magadhas ' and Aryans ; and the important agricultural 
caste of Kurmis, or Kunbis, are said to be a mixed race 
from the Kaurava or Kuru clan. Tribes of this kind, and 
Rajputs of purer origin also, spread (as I have already 
remarked) over the Panjab and other places, by what I may 
call a reflex movement settling as individuals or groups, 
who returned upon their steps, after the original tribes had 
advanced to the country of the Jamna and beyond it. The 
once extensive settlement of 'Chib' Rajputs in the Gujrat 
district of the Panjab, may with tolerable certainty be 
ascribed to this origin 1 . 

1 Many settlements now forming or Mew&r, or wherever else they 
groups of Rajput villages, in the had settled in Hindustan returned, 
Panjab were due to single ad- founded villages, and gradually 
venturers, cadets and members of multiplied into clans. The Rajput 
families who, dissatisfied with their race is everywhere noted as ex- 
position and prospects in Bikanir tremely prolific. 


15. Importance of the Hindu system. 

The land-system of the Aryans whether really Dravi- 
dian or not is the one that has come down to us in the 
greatest perfection. It survives to this day in Rajputana 
and in the Hindu states of the Himalayan mountains. We 
can see its identity, at least in all main features, with the 
system of the Aryan tribes as it was in Manu's time. We 
have also evidence of what it was in the small Hindu states 
that once spread over Oudh ; we trace it in Orissa ; we 
can follow the same organization as it was adopted by the 
Marathas and by the Sikhs. We can gather similar inform- 
ation also about the Hindu states in South India. Every- 
where we have the same broad outlines of State and social 
organization in their relation to land-holding. 

The Rajas of one place may regard those of other parts 
as having lost caste, and they may refuse intermarriage ; 
they may regard themselves as the representatives of the 
pure stock, and other princes as nobodies ; but all that 
has nothing to do with the fact that they all adopt, 
and have adopted from time immemorial, a system of 
organization and land-administration which is the same 
in all essentials. 

What is more strange, the Muhammadan conquest did 
little directly to modify the old system of Hindu land- 
holding ; though indirectly, as we shall see, it caused a new 
race of landlords to arise, who ignored and gradually 
caused the decay of, the special features of village or- 
ganization. But it is not to the Muhammadan conquest, 
speaking of the country as a whole, that we owe any irre- 
coverable loss of evidence as to what the old forms of land- 
holding were. 

1 6. The Hindu Land-system. 

Although in the chapter (which follows this) on the Land- 
Revenue Systems, I have fully described the method of 
State organization which marks the Hindu Raj or kingdom, 


and all others which assimilated to it, I had better give 
a similar outline here, and the repetition will be forgiven. 
No doubt the different clans or sections of the Aryan tribe 
occupied denned territories which they conquered. There 
is everywhere evidence that the tendency was to form a 
number of comparatively small States or territories, and 
the Rajas, or head chiefs, and minor chiefs, called Thakur, 
Rana, Babu, &c., of each, divided the land amongst them- 
selves. Sometimes particular clans had no Rajas, and they 
then made an equal division into villages and family estates. 
There was also a marked tendency for a number of these 
States to be united in a sort of confederacy under some 
greater emperor. Such was the case in the days of the 
great kings of Kanauj, and with the empire of Chandragupta 
and Asoka l . The Chinese pilgrim in the seventh century 
A.D., notes that he saw the State barge of the Maharaja, or 
great king of Kanauj. being drawn along on some ceremo- 
nial occasion, by eighteen minor Rajas. 

We are, however, only concerned with the individual 
States. The Raja, as the chief power of the clan, received 
the largest and best group of lands 2 (usually in the centre 
of the country) as his royal demesne, and this was in after 
times called his ' Khalsa,' the Persian term of course indi- 
cating its later introduction. Smaller estates were assigned 
to the other tribal or clan chieftains (Thakur, Rana, &c.), 
and they governed these estates without interference from 
the Raja. They were only bound to feudal service, to 
appear at the Raja's court from time to time, to receive 
investiture, and to pay a succession fee on the occasion of 
a succession by inheritance. 

17. Manu's idea of land-holding. 

Unfortunately we have no information as to how indivi- 
dual families and members of the clans received holdings of 

1 Just as there was an overlord , p. 220) says : ' The domains reserved 

a Rex gentis Anglorum, in the days of for the crown constituted, if not the 

the heptarchy in England. largest, at least the most valuable 

1 Stirling, in his remarks on and productive share of the whole 

Orissa, (Asiatic Researches, vol. xv. territory.' 


land. By the time which Harm's Institutes represent, the 
tribes had settled down, and agriculture was well esta- 
blished. Manu has nothing to tell us of how individual 
(family) holdings were apportioned. In the times repre- 
sented by his Code, there were already separate villages, a 
headman over each village, and other officials over groups of 
villages, and over larger areas (des), which probably still 
survive under the more familiar revenue name of ' pargana,' 
a term introduced at a later period by the Mughals. who 
simply followed the old Hindu organization of territory 
under new names. 

It is not easy to explain why Manu tells us nothing of 
the original possession of cultivating holdings. He is, 
however, chiefly concerned with the Raja of high or mili- 
tary caste and his learned Brahman counsellors, and how 
these allotted the country for rule and overlordship. It is 
probable that the cultivators, who were called Vaisyas and 
Sudras by caste, were some of them, dependents or followers 
of particular chiefs, who settled on the territories of their 
respective heads ; but they must also have represented 
the mixed race formed by the union of Hindus and Dravi- 
dians. They cultivated each man (or family) according to his 
ability. The higher military caste, when not of rank to 
hold estates as chiefs, or become headmen and district officers, 
either lived apart as soldiers, or fell into the humbler posi- 
tion of cultivators. In a great many instances the land 
occupied must have been waste and covered with jungle, 
and its reclamation may have been without any formal 
division other than the allotment (of ultimate holdings) 
under the direction of headmen, such as we see in so many 
parts in later times 1 . However this may be, all that Manu 
notices is the right possessed by the 'first clearer' of the jungle. 
He has the right, just as the hunter who first wounded the 
deer in the chase. 

In the concluding section on property we shall give 

1 I refer to the process of village devoted to the tenures of those 
founding in the Central Provinces, provinces, 
described more fully in the chapter 


some further details about Manu, and the state of things in 
his time. Here I am only concerned to note that it is 
doubtful if there is any suggestion of a landlord between 
the cultivators and the Raja, and certainly nothing like a 
tribal or a joint ownership on the part of the body of culti- 
vators or holders of land in the ' Gramam ' or village 1 . 
Indeed, if there had originally been a joint ownership, 
I do not see how any such ownership could have grown up 
afterwards, not universally, but in particular cases, as it 
certainly did. The process of such growth is clearly trace- 
able in the Hindu states of Oudh, and is well described 
in Mr. Bennett's excellent Settlement Report on the Gonda 
District (1878). It is also clearly traceable in Guzarat 
(Bombay Presidency), not to mention numerous other 

1 8. The Right to the Waste. 

The conclusion that the earliest villages consisted of ag- 
gregates of individual holders, with only the Raja or chief 
over them as ruler not landlord, depends to some extent on 
what was held regarding the ownership of the uncultivated 
and unoccupied lands. Where there is a true joint village, 
as we shall presently see, we find some person (or body) 
claiming the entire area in a ring fence, uncultivated as 
well as cultivated. But in the ordinary village of Manu, 
the individual cultivators, each strongly attached to his own 
holding, make use of the adjacent waste for grazing and 
wood-cutting, but do not claim it as theirs. Certainly the 
Raja or the chief exercised the right of making grants and 
locating settlers on this waste, and the village headman was 
applied to to authorize the breaking up of fresh waste. In 
some parts of Oudh, where there was valuable timber on 

1 It is quite certain that no to imply the contrary. I have 

phrase in Manu gives the slightest carefully re-examined Biihler's 

hint of any joint-body owning in translation, and find nothing ap- 

common a certain group of territory preaching an indication of anything 

in a ring-fence. Mr. Phillips in beyond a group of cultivators 

his first lecture, and M. de Lave- (under a common headman) whose 

leye, if I rightly understand his individual right depends on the first 

use of the term ' communaute ' clearing of the jungle. 
(Proprietd Primitive,}). 66\ would seem 


the land, we find the Raja levying (as one of his State 
rights) an ' axe-tax ' on the felling of timber, from all out- 
siders. This is, again, quite inconsistent with the idea of a 
communal group or body owning the waste. As a matter 
of practice, the rulers and the headmen of the villages (on 
their behalf) would allow any one to extend his tillage 
to the neighbouring waste, because the king's share of the 
produce at once became due, and so the total was augmented. 
Naturally, as long as waste was abundant and land had no 
great value, the authorities were only too glad to see culti- 
vation extended and a title acquired by first clearing the 
land, and did not think of asking questions, or raising 
objection to its occupation. 

19. Conclusion as to the oldest known form of 

Thus we must conclude that the first (and, as far as we 
know, the oldest) form of village is where the cultivators 
practically owners of their several family holdings 
live under a common headman, with certain common 
officers and artisans who serve them, of which presently; 
and there is no landlord (class or individual) over the whole. 
The Rajas now (where they survive, as in the Himalayan 
States) claim to be themselves landlords or owners of all 
the soil, and only recognize landholders as tenants, here- 
ditary indeed, after holding for some generations ; but then 
they are conquerors, or rather descended from conquerors 
or adventurers who gained the superior position, in one way 
or another, only a few centuries ago. No such claim on the 
part of a Raja (as we shall presently see) is traceable in 
Manu. The Raja had his own private lands ; but as ruler of 
the whole country, his right is represented, not by a claim 
to general soil-ownership, but by the ruler's right to the 
revenue, taxes, cesses, and the power of making grants of 
the waste. For this reason I have called the first of the 
two types of village above spoken of the RAIYATWAB! or 

VOL. i. K 



() Land- 
lord rights 

grown up 
over the 
village of 
the first 

(fc) Land- 
lord rights 
were (as 
far as we 
from the 
first allot- 
or found- 

20. Modes in which the second type arises. 

Let us now enquire how the second class of village which 
I have stated to exist, comes to light or has grown up. It is 
distinguished by the fact, which the reader will have already 
surmised, that there is a landlord, or a body of landlords, 
claiming right over an entire village, intermediate between 
the Raja or chief, and the humbler body of resident cul- 
tivators and dependants. It will be found to be (a) a 
growth among and over the villages of the first type ; and 
(6) to be the form resulting from the original conquest and 
occupation of land as far as we know previously un- 
occupied, by certain tribes and leaders of colonists who 
settled in the Panjab and elsewhere. I shall first enu- 
merate the different origins of which we have distinct 
evidence, and then I shall offer explanatory remarks on 
each head seriatim. 

Every one of these heads is derived from an observation 
of the recorded facts in Oudh, the North- West Provinces, 
Madras, Bombay, and the Panjab. 

The village of the second type arises : 

(1) Out of the dismemberment of the old Rajd's or 

chief's estate, and the division or partition of 
larger estates. 

(2) Out of grants made by the Raja to courtiers, fa- 

vourites, minor members of the Royal family, 

\ (3) By the later growth and usurpation of Government 
Revenue officials. 

(4) In quite recent times by the growth of Revenue 

farmers and purchasers, when the village has 
been sold under the first laws for the recovery 
i of arrears of revenue. 

(5) From the original establishment of special clans 

and families by conquest or occupation, and by 
the settlement of associated bands of village 
families and colonists in comparatively late 
times. (This applies specially to the Panjab.) 


21. (i.) The dismemberment of the Edj. 

The Raja's position was distinctly that of an overlord ; 
the title and its appanages descended by primogeniture to 
one son only, so that as long as affairs went prosperously, 
there was no tendency to any alteration. But cases oc- 
curred, where, from family dissensions, or misfortune of war, 
or both, the Raja's principality broke up ; and then indi- 
vidual members of the family seized upon, or managed to 
retain in their hands, certain portions, and of that they 
became in process of time the practical owners landlords 
in something of the modern sense. 

Still more easily would this follow with the smaller 
chief's estates that were not, like the 'Raj,' indivisible. 
Primogeniture is there the exception, not the rule ; and I can- 
not state any definite rule as to the particular grade of rank 
at which there ceases to be a ' coronet ' or a ' throne ' right 
which only goes to the eldest. Among the chiefs who held 
estates in the ancient Oudh kingdoms, some families divided 
the estates, and some did not. When such an estate 
divided, it was almost certain to be the case that one 
member got one village, another two or three, and so 
on, till it came to pass that each family endeavoured to 
reproduce in the small area of one or two villages, the rights 
of the chief to the grain-share and other dues ; and of course 
seized on the waste as an important means of increasing its 
wealth. In time these claims have always developed into 
a landlord right over the village. And when the original 
acquirer of such rights dies, and a body of joint heirs suc- 
ceeds, we soon find a number of co-sharers, all equally 
entitled, claiming the whole estate, and (whether remaining 
joint or partitioning the fields) forming what is called a 
( joint village-community.' 

22. (2.) The Rdjas Grants. 

In Oudh we have instances where the Raja has made 
grants to younger members of his family, or to courtiers, 

K 2 


or where some family in the village of higher caste or more 
energy than the rest, has asked for and obtained the king's 
favour. The grant is called ' birt,' or, in the Sanskrit form, 
1 vritti.' 

As long as the old Hindu kingdoms remained in their 
pristine state, such grants were only made for life to mem- 
bers of the king's family for their subsistence (jewan birt), 
or were grants of the waste in revenue language jangal- 
tarashi to clear the forest and found new villages. But 
when the Rajas came into conflict with the Muhammadan 
power, and were dispossessed or reduced to subordinate 
positions, we find cases where they raised money by 
selling ' birts.' This can be clearly traced in Oudh, where 
we have a full account of the ancient States within what 
is now the Gonda district 1 . The Utraula State is one 
that exhibits examples of the sale of birts. In all these 
cases we find that the management of a village, the whole 
or a part of the Raja's grain-share, and the manorial rights 
(tolls., ferries, local taxes) were made over to the grantee, the 
aggregate of such rights being called the ' zamindarf/ and 
the birt being called a ' zamindari birt V 

Exactly the same thing happened when powerful families 
settled in the villages, raised their position, either with the 
Raja's tacit consent, or merely by usurpation. 

In Ajmer, among the Rajputs, we shall find certain hold- 
ings called ' bhumiya,' which were in fact landlord holdings, 
created apparently for smaller chiefs and others who had 
fallen out of the ruling rank ; and thus holding the land 
more directly than the chief in his greater estate, they be- 
came in every sense the landlord over the cultivators. 

In all these cases it might be asked what became of the 

1 Benett's Settlement Report of Gondd, jal' (water), 'sakat' (forest rights), 

1878. Mr. Benett remarks that such sa-path ' (right over roads, ferries, 

grants were made chiefly when the &c.) In Utraula, besides the Raja's 

Raja was in a precarious position or grants, the Muhammadan power 

out of possession altogether. The settled its own soldiers in some 

taking money was sub rosd, as be- villages, granting them the Revenue 

neath the dignity of the prince. as petty ' jagird&rs.' In time their 

* The grant disposed of the Rajd's families became landlords of the 

right over the waste, to tolls, fishing granted villages, 
rights, &c. t with the formula ' sa- 


rights of the original villagers whose title by clearing the 
waste had already been acknowledged? But in Oriental 
affairs we must not look for definiteness and for consist- 
ency : doubtless in practice the old holders went on exactly 
as before, and had an hereditary right, which, though un- 
defined, was practically respected by all decent grantees 
and landlords. 

23. Illustration of the effect of dismemberment of a 
<Rdj' or Chiefs Estate. 

It is exceedingly important to remember how easily in 
the course of a few generations a single family multiplies 
and the Rajput race is extraordinarily prolific so that 
when we now see a whole group of villages in one locality 
having the same origin, we might almost suspect the settle- 
ment of a whole tribe ; whereas really it is a case of 
multiplication of descendants and the separation of in- 
terests, consequent on the dismemberment of one single 
family estate. I cannot help alluding to the remarkable 
illustration of this afforded by the clan of Tilok Chand 
Bais in the Rai Bareli district of Oudh 1 . This locality 
once formed the centre of an extensive kingdom or over- 
lordship, established by Raja Tilok Chand. After his 
death spite of the usual rule of primogeniture which 
applies to the ruling family as regards the chiefship, 
though not otherwise the family broke up into a number 
of petty estates ; i. e. the heads claimed the landlordship 
over numerous villages and founded other new ones. After 
some time the family agreed to divide no further. The result 
has been a large number of small (village) estates, and a 
certain number of larger estates of many villages 537 of 
the former and 60 of the latter all, of course, of the land- 
lord or joint type. Out of 1735 villages in the district, no 
less than 1719 are owned by descendants of this one Raja's 
family in fact, the ' Tilok Chand Bais ' have become a 

1 See Gazetteer of Oudh, s. v. Ifcii Bareli, vol. iii., and Mr. Benett's 
Clans of Rdi Bareli. 


numerous clan, forming a section of some great branch of 
the Rajput race. 

Many other instances, perhaps not on quite such a large 
scale, could be quoted from Oudh, the North- West Pro- 
vinces, and from the Panjab. 

24. Special features noticed in connection with these 
first heads. 

The discussion of the two first named among the modes 
of origin assignable to the present joint villages, leads me 
to invite attention to the fact that the claim to be landlord 
is due to the same feeling of superior caste, with its senti- 
ment of graded rank and obedience to the ruler, as produced 
the organization of Raja and subordinate chiefs 1 . It is 
also worth noticing that it is this kind of claim to the soil 
which is the subject of discussion when we find 'property 
in land ' brought into question in books and reports. The 
humbler but strongly-felt right of cultivators not claiming 
' birthright,' under the name of ' janmi ' or ' mirasi ' right, or 
other similar title in other words, the right of the ' first 
clearer ' of the soil, is not so much asserted and talked 
about. But what I desire especially to press on the atten- 
tion of the reader is how, as long as the superior caste is 
represented by a Rajd, or a chief holding a great estate as 
ruler, the original title of the soil-occupants is not, either 
in theory or practice, interfered with. The chief remains 
apart, receiving revenue, levying tolls and taxes, administer- 
ing justice, with perhaps some vague claim as conqueror to 
be lord of all, but not claiming any actual concern with the 
occupied land in the villages. But no sooner is this domain 

1 As a matter of fact, in a majority to any other principle. They are 

of cases, landlord villages which usually high caste, or military caste, 

derive their origin from some dis- Of course some are due to strong 

tant but still remembered ancestor and able families not originally of 

who was of the Raja's family, or high caste, and these will derive 

was a royal grantee, or simply a their origin from Revenue farming 

man of superior energy and talent arrangements, not being under the 

who pushed his way, will be found head we are at present confining 

to be held, or once to have been our attention to. 
held, on ancestral shares in preference 


dismembered owing to war or family feuds, and the mem- 
bers of the family retain or seize upon separate villages ; 
no sooner is there a succession and a partition of the family 
estate, than the sense of lordship, focussed as it were on 
the more limited area, becomes fixed on the land itself, and 
developes into a claim to be owner of the actual acres of 
the village area. 

But there is the same feeling of superiority that the Raja 
or the chief had in his domain when it was in its original 
state and dignity, the same sense that the family, even 
though it now is a peasant family engaged in agriculture l , 
is far above the plough-drivers and humbler occupants of 
the fields. In the case of the great estate, the feeling is 
expressed by holding the ruler's seat and taking the reve- 
nue ; in the petty estate, it is expressed by the claim to be 
owner of everything within the boundaries of the village 
which is now called the ' birthright ' of the family or joint 

This claim invariably results in the ultimate overshadow- 
ing of all preceding rights. In time these would have 
become ignored altogether, were it not for the existence of 
provinces in which those rights have never been overborne 
by any landlord class arising over them, and were it not for 
the policy of some of our revenue-systems which were de- 
vised when the Bengal landlord settlement had been found 
to be fraught with troubles, and when a great desire to 
protect, if not to push forward, the humbler classes, began 
to be felt. 

The phenomenon described the change from rulership 
to landlordship of which instances so often occur in Oudh 
and the North- West Provinces, is by no means peculiar to 
them. Many cases are traceable in the Panjab. To this 
cause also must be ascribed the direct origin of the land- 
lord tenures of Malabar so often alluded to. The military 
caste, called Nayar in that district, at one time furnished the 

1 Necessity has forced Rajputs themselves to certain parts of the 

and others to take to agriculture ; process of tillage, avoiding, for ex- 

but some still compromise with ample, the actual handling of a 

their old dignity by confining plough. 


ruling chiefs and filled the higher official positions over the 
land. But the historical fortunes of the country were 
strange ; the rulership was lost, but still the Nayars main- 
tained their claims (supposed to be quite an exceptional 
instance of ' private property ' in land !) as landlords of the 
soil, including both cultivated land and forest waste, and 
then began to talk about their 'janmam' or birthright, 
as is the usual course. 

In Bombay the joint or landlord villages of the Guzarat 
country, which are well marked exceptions to the (there) 
usual raiyatwdri type of village, are clearly traced to the 
decay or dismemberment of former Rajput chiefships. 
The descendants have retained a village here and a 
village there, or even small groups of villages, and all 
the families are more or less connected by community 
of descent. The sharers in these villages will all regard 
themselves as superior to the cultivators, and will prob- 
ably be addressed by some honorific title or appellation, 
and are sure to speak of their ' birthright ' in the soil. 

We may now proceed to consider the remainder of the 
five suggested origins of landlord or joint villages. 

25. (3.) Usurpation of Land-officers. 

We come to the third head, the growth (and often the 
usurpation) of Government officials. 

As long as the Muhammadan Government was strong, 
it maintained, under changed names, but without real 
alteration, the Aryan or Hindu system of territorial revenue 
administration. But it was under this Government, in the 
days of its decline, that the local officers were gradually 
left with less and less control, to manage the revenues ; 
ultimately they (and also non-official persons who had in- 
fluence or capital) were recognized as contractors for fixed 
sums of revenue over defined or undefined areas. This 
brought them into closer managing contact with the land, 
and enabled them to become landlords, a process which 
they effected by clearing fresh waste lands, buying up 


others, and ousting the old cultivators. Sometimes this 
process extended over large areas, and resulted in the form- 
ation of great estates (known as those of ' Zamindars ' and 
' Taluqdars ') ; but often also the contractor became landlord 
of one or more villages, and his multiplied descendants, in 
the course of a generation or two, formed landlord bodies 
or ' village communities.' 

2,6. (4.) Effects of Revenue-systems. 

The fourth head is really the same thing, only in a more 
modern form. It is exemplified chiefly in the North- West 
Provinces. There, at the beginning of the century, the 
real condition of the village bodies was unknown, the single- 
landlord idea was the only one familiar to the minds of the 
Collectors, and the revenue management of villages was 
leased to one man ; he might be a leading land-owner or 
headman, or he might be a capitalist or speculator. In time 
this person, whose name might have been recorded by some 
device and without any just title, had opportunities of put- 
ting himself forward and getting a Settlement which con- 
firmed his position. In those days, too, revenue sales were 
common ; directly any arrear of revenue occurred, the estate 
was put up to auction, very often at the instance of a 
designing purchaser, who had contrived the default by 
unknown but nefarious means. The auction purchaser of 
course became landlord, and his descendants now form the 
regular proprietary community, either holding the village 
jointly, or having divided it up into shares J . 

1 In Holt Mackenzie's great sized estates were doubtless fairly 
Minute on the North- West System, created, by the successive purchase 
there are many allusions to this of individual villages from their ori- 
subject. He complains of the ten- ginal owners, or by the extension of 
dency there was to refer merely to cultivation by means of contract- 
records and see whose name was cultivators, in districts having a 
down as the nominal holder of a large proportion of desert waste. 
village, and consider him as the But the origin of others was of a 
owner irrespective of facts ( 414). more questionable character. . . . 
And, speaking of the Revenue far- He appears to have engaged in a 
mers, and other persons who claimed constant struggle for the extension 
to be owners, some of several vil- of his " zamindari " property ; and 
lages, others of single villages, he as he generally had the hand of 
says ( 406), 'Some of the moderate- power and a preponderating in- 


Under this head I ought to mention the Central Province 
villages. As they came under our rule they were certainly 
raiyatwdri villages, but it was, in pursuance of the North- 
West System, desired to treat them as if they were joint 
landlord villages, and make a village Settlement for one 
sum of revenue. This, as we shall learn more in detail in 
the chapters on the Central Provinces, could not be carried 
out; and the Government determined to confer on the 
pdtels or headmen, or the revenue-farmers (called 'mal- 
guzar ' under the Marathd rule) the proprietary title. Since 
those days the original grantee-proprietor has often given 
place to a body of descendants who now form a landlord 
community. Only that in this case Government repented, 
if I may so say, of what had been done, and therefore early 
took steps to secure the rights of the original village culti- 
vators, on whom, speaking generally, it conferred the 
privilege of an occupancy tenure with rents fixed by the 
Settlement Officer for the term of Settlement, leaving to 
the landlords the free control only of such lands as were in 
their own direct cultivation (called in revenue language 
their ' sir ' lands). The Central Provinces thus exhibit the 
somewhat curious spectacle of villages held by artificially 
created landlord bodies, but with a ' tenantry ' whose land 
is for the most part held quite independent of any contract 
with the landlords and beyond the reach of their inter- 

26. (5.) Colonization and conquest. Individual and 
tribal Settlements. 

The fifth head is one which is of great importance, as 
under it several varieties of origin may be collected. 

The matter may be stated thus : the result of the Aryan 
immigration all over India was the fusion of the Aryan 
and Dravidian races, and the general establishment of 

fluence with the " 'Amil " (local too frequently converted by force or 
Revenue officer), the various vil- fraud into one Zaminddri estate.' 
lages of the farm or taluq were 


smaller and larger rulerships or States, whose component 
units were village groups. These villages were owned, not 
by joint bodies, but by aggregates of separate families of 
landholders. In the course of time, as the rulerships broke 
up, and new conquering chiefs established themselves, the 
villages fell under the power of new families who soon 
formed joint-communities claiming the whole village either 
single villages or groups. This did not take place over the 
whole country, but sporadically or occasionally, leaving 
large areas with the villages in their former condition. But 
in the Panjab (more especially) we find that there were 
tracts of country where, at a later date, other tribes estab- 
lished themselves, and where small bodies of adventurers 
found a home : and these, from the first, formed joint bodies 
claiming the entire area of their settlements. This state 
of things is markedly illustrated by the Panjab frontier 

All over the North-West frontier we shall find the dis- 
tricts occupied by comparatively small tribal and family 
groups who conquered or took possession of the land at a 
late date, not before the twelfth and as late as the fifteenth 
and sixteenth centuries, before which time the history of 
the land is a blank. It is known that in these cases the 
land was at once allotted into villages, sections, and family 
holdings, so that, as far as we know, the groups always 
regarded the whole area as theirs, and thus formed virtually 
a proprietary body over each village. It is possible indeed 
that their own theory may have been different ; but as our 
revenue system, borrowed from the North- West Provinces, 
at once assumed these village bodies to be joint and entitled 
to all the land inside their local village area, and as the 
feelings of the people evidently fell in with this position, 
it is impossible to suggest any antecedent condition and 
any subsequent growth of a landlord class, or gradual 
development of landlord claims. Most of the tribes brought 
with them camp followers, dependants and inferiors of 
various sorts, who became tenants however privileged in 
some cases and there never was any doubt about the 


superiority and landlord spirit of the conquering tribes- 
men, whatever levelling effects later misrule may have 
had, and whatever equitable claims the other castes may 
have been able to urge. On the frontier this is ex- 
tremely marked, and the evidence is clear and beyond 

The same is hardly less true of the Central Panjab, though 
the origin of the villages is often more remote and there- 
fore more obscure. Indeed, for the Panjab generally, I am 
unable to suggest that the joint or landlord village arose 
over an antecedent type in the way it did in the North- 
West Provinces and Oudh. 

27. Panjdb Tribes. 

The Panjab exhibits quite a peculiarity in this respect ; 
we know that originally the Aryans did not occupy the 
plains ; their kingdoms were only along the Himalayan 
range. And where we now find 'Aryan' Rajputs, it is 
probable that they always represent later settlements, the 
result of what I may call a reflex immigration of single 
adventurers or small bodies. But it is also certain that 
the Gujars and Jats were tribes who entered the country 
independently, and established villages which, as I have 
said, were, owing to tribal sentiment, always landlord or 
joint villages. In Campbell's Modern India (p. 8) it 
is said ' we are not without a historical glimpse of the 
facts. We have very good and accurate accounts of 
Northern India as it was in Alexander's time, and we find 
that in addition to the Hindu kingdoms ... he found 
settled or encamped in the Panjab, great tribes of a purely 
republican constitution, far more warlike than any others 
which he encountered. The best account of this is to be 
found in Heeren, in the volume on the Persians (p. 310). 
Heeren represents their constitution as aristocratic or under 
the government of their optimates.' And when Alexander 
treated with 300 deputies of such tribes, the author goes on 
to say (what is doubtless true), that these were the ' pan- 


chayats' or councils of the elders of the villages l . I cannot 
help concluding, then, that while in other parts of India 
joint villages arose in the various ways described, a number 
of joint villages in the Panjab are due to the special cus- 
toms of the particular tribes which distinct from the 
Aryan race that overspread India settled there. That is 
unquestionably the case with the later tribes in the districts 
on the North-West frontier, and it is probably the case 
with some of the Gujar and Jat tribes of earlier origin, and 
some of the less familiarly known castes also. The Jats 
and the Gujars I distinguish because they went beyond the 
Panjab and formed settlements in Hindustan also, and are 
therefore better known 2 . The name ' Jat ' becomes ' Jat ' 
in Hindustan. 

1 The allusion is to Historical Re<- 
searches into the Politics, <fcc., of the 
principal nations of Antiquity, by A. H. 
Heeren (.translated from the Ger- 
man), vol. i. The Persians. Ox- 
ford : Talboys, 1833, p. 310. The 
author's account is very note- 
worthy. He distinctly shows that 
there were states under the Rajas 
in the North Panjab i. e. near 
the hills, where the Aryans (Raj- 
puts) settled ; and mentions that 
one of them, called Porus (perhaps 
this word is ' Purusha ' and is only 
a title (confer. Dow's Hindostan, i. 
24), was at enmity with the Takka 
or people of Taxila who, as I re- 
marked, were still earlier Dravidian 
settlers. There were also kingdoms 
along the Indus ^which exactly 
corresponds to what we know of 
the early history of Sindh). 'When,' 
he says, ' Alexander crossed the 
Chinab (Acesines). he fell in with 
other nations not living under the 
rule of princes, but possessing a re- 
publican constitution. These Indian 
republics occurred in the country 
between the Acesines and Hyphasis 
(Chinab and Bias, i. e. Central 
Panjab), or on the east of the pro- 
vince of Lahore.' He mentions the 
Cathcei, Adriaticae, and (in the 
Souths the Malli and Oxydraceae of 
the Greek writers. Heeren's at- 

tempt to identify these tribes is less 
happy ; for in his time nothing was 
known about the Panjab tribes. No 
doubt many of the races who really 
were our Jats, Gujars and other 
tribes became afterwards Sikhs, 
but they cannot be identified with 
either Rajputs or Marathas. It is 
true that among them, some clans, 
for whatever reason, never had 
Rajas, but lived under their elders 
in groups of equal right. And it was 
clans who did this that originated 
the form called' bhaiachara,' village, 
as distinct from the ancestral-share 
or ' pattidari ' villages. But this 
fact does not identify them. 

2 I cannot discuss the origin of 
Jats, but it is remarkable that Panj- 
ab Jats are distinct from the Jats 
of other provinces, and in South- 
east Panjab we have both Jat and 
Jat tribes physically unlike each 
other. I can only conjecture, fol- 
lowing local tradition, that some 
were really Rajputs who lost caste 
by making mixed marriages, &c., 
others are a distinct race. A 
great number of the Panjab 
tribes, Awans, Khokhars, Arams, 
&c., may be mixed races, formed by 
the union of the original Takka and 
other tribes with Rajputs, or with 
later tribes colonizing from beyond 
the North- West frontier. 


38. Colonies 'multiplied from individuals or 
small groups. 

But in any case a large number of joint villages are due 
to the multiplication of villages from single centres. There 
are numerous local traditions of scions of Rajput and other 
'noble' families who, dissatisfied with their prospects at 
home (the parent stock had then found a home in Hindu- 
stan, Bikanir, &c.) turned on their steps and obtained land 
in the Panjab, where doubtless it was abundant. Single 
adventurers or small parties thus established themselves, 
and spreading and multiplying founded village after village, 
over which of course the descendants are regarded as the 
landlord communities. Traditions to the effect are too 
numerous, coherent, and intrinsically probable, to be set 
aside. We may often distinguish villages of this class by 
their adhering to ancestral fractional shares in holding the 
land. Such shares show descent from a common ancestor, 
the colonizing founder or conquering chief. 

There are no doubt a large number of villages where the co- 
sharers now hold on the basis of actual separate possession. 
Many of these are true landlord villages, only the accidents 
and the fortunes of the times have destroyed the ancestral 
shares. Others may have originally been of the raiyatwdri 
type. But if so, the example of numerous landlord or joint 
villages round them, and the fact that when our Revenue 
Settlement began, they were treated as joint and the waste 
adjoining made over to them, either of these may have 
induced them to accept the lump assessment and the (nomi- 
nal) joint responsibility without demur. We know this to 
have been the case with the Kangra district villages, and 
how far it may have been the case with others it is impos- 
sible to say. In fact it is now hopeless to argue what the 
original constitution may have been \ 

1 I have spoken before of the locally, owing to the force of ex- 
failure of the attempt in Bombay ample, or to the value of the joint- 
and elsewhere to force the joint waste conferred when the village 
constitution on raiyatwari villages ; was settled by the Kevenue officers, 
but it might always happen that, or from other causes, the joint con- 


In the south-east Panjab we shall also find villages, 
which have accepted the joint constitution, whose origin is 
clearly traceable to voluntary associations of different 
individuals and families, who applied to a local ruler for 
permission to settle, and thereon founded villages, only 
within the present century. 

And the mention of this form of co-operative colonization 
leads me to speak of the survival of joint or landlord 
villages in Madras. 

The Presidency of Madras affords another instance of the 
occurrence of landlord villages only in some places, or 
sporadically, as it were, among villages of the raiyatwdri 
type. In most cases it is a mere trace of such villages that 
now survives. The details "will be given in the chapters 
devoted to Madras ; but I may here give a brief outline of the 
events which led to the discovery of such traces, and notice 
how they illustrate the subject we are now considering. 

When the failure of the first attempted Settlements in 
Madras caused an enquiry to be made (about 1814) as to 
the constitution of villages, with a view to determining 
what form of revenue-settlement could best be adopted, it 
was discovered that a number of villages existed, in which 
a class of landholders, generally known by the Perso-Arabic 
name 1 ' mirasdar ' holders of the ' miras ' or inheritance 
right was found. A selection from the rather voluminous 
evidence on the subject has been reprinted in an official 
collection of papers issued in 1862. The conclusion to be 
drawn is, that the villages with a mirdsddr, or .landlord 
class, where they existed, were survivals of some high caste 
families who by conquest or grant had obtained the over- 
lordship. But in the neighbourhood of Chingleput the 
villages of this class were more continuous, and evidence was 

stitution would be accepted without practical non-enforcement of any 

question. It is quite certain that real joint revenue- liability, made 

in the Kangra district (a hill and the people accept the system with- 

partly submontane district) ' land- out demur. 

lord' villages, or indeed villages of l The people had their own 

any kind, did not exist, and so in names ; for instance, ' Kani-atchi ' 

the dry tracts in the South Panjab ; expresses birthright or inheritance, 
yet the grant of the waste and the 


forthcoming to show that they were due to the fact that 
there had been a great colonizing party sent out by one of 
the Dravidian kingdoms of Southern India; they had 
advanced into what was then an unpeopled forest country, 
and having cleared the land and established villages, the 
different leaders of the colonist groups became the landlords. 
In time the original founder or founders were succeeded by 
a numerous body of descendants who divided up the land 
into shares. This body, deriving their rights from a special 
emigration and colony planting, naturally regarded them- 
selves as entitled to a superior kind of right ; all others were 
their tenants, namely the low-caste cultivators and others 
who were either admitted at a later period, or represented the 
descendants of dependants and followers who were called in 
to aid at the original founding, which was a work of great 
labour requiring as many hands as possible. And I may 
here remark that at the present day we hear less of claims 
by ' conquest,' than of those derived from the ' founding ' of 
the village, though in many cases the latter may be a 
euphemism for conquest or usurpation. 

Especially in the Panjab I have noticed the landlord 
class always claiming superiority as the descendants of the 
' original founders ' (banian-ganw). 

29. Conclusion regarding two types of Village. 

This brief sketch will now, I hope, have made it clear 
that we are to distinguish two distinct types of village: one 
is where the landholders are disconnected aggregates of 
families each claiming nothing but its own holding the 
RAIYATWARI or NON-LANDLORD TYPE ; the other is where 
a class in the village, or it may be the entire body, claim 
to be a superior order, descendants of former rulers, or 
colonizing-founders, or conquerors, or grantees, or, later 
on, of revenue-farmers and auction purchasers, who claim 
jointly the entire estate ; and this is the JOIST or LANDLORD- 
VILLAGE type 1 . The former type prevails over the whole of 

1 In the first edition of this work types as the ' non-united ' and the 
I essayed to distinguish the two 'united' type respectively. The 


Madras, Bombay, and Central India. The Central Provinces 
villages were, and would still have been, of this type, but for 
the action of our own Government in conferring the pro- 
prietary right, so that these villages have now passed into 
the landlord class. On the other hand, the landlord or 
joint village now prevails in the North- West Provinces 
and Oudh, and in the Panjab. Probably, in the North- 
West Provinces and Oudh this type was originally only 
occasional, as elsewhere ; there must have been many 
groups of old cultivators who had never been interfered 
with, and whose system of holding land is, and always was, 
according to actual possession only. But the revenue- 
system, from the first, treated all villages alike, and 
whether it was the descendants of a superior family or a 
group of cultivators who had no joint-claims, all became, 
by the grant of the waste and the (nominal) joint and 
several responsibility for the land-revenue of the entire 
village, equally compacted into bodies, the joint-owners, in 
name, of the whole area. It is certainly also the case that 
in more than one locality the present joint-villages are the 
creation of our own system, circumstances permitting the 
change to be accepted or not practically felt. 

30. Importance of the distinction as regards the 

Revenue system. 

The existence of two types of village is a fact of primary 
importance to the Revenue student, apart from its interest 

terms are not, however, satisfactory ; advantages : the landlord class have 
they do not indicate the fact that in certainly a strong feeling of su- 
one type there is a superior, land- periority. But there are many vil- 
lord, class, and in the other there is lages where the truly landlord 
not ; while there may be a certain class acknowledge no chiefs, and, 
union in villages where no superior as among themselves, are ' demo- 
chief claims the whole. The cratic/ but this does not put them 
people, though each claims only his on an equality with the non- 
own holding or field, may very well proprietary residents and cultiva- 
be ' united ' in another sense, under tors. On the whole, I think that 
a common headman and with a the terms, landlord or joint village 
common staff of artisans. Sir for the one type, and non- landlord 
George Campbell, in his essay in or raiyatwdri for the other type, are, 
the Cobden Club Papers, has distin- though not neat or compact terms, 
guished the types as ' aristocratic ' still expressive of the main differ- 
and 'democratic.' This has some ence. 

VOL. I. L 


as a matter of history and of the development of land- 
tenures. Wherever the villages consist of the loose 
aggregates of separate cultivators, it has been found ad- 
visable to adopt what we shall presently describe as the 
' Raiyatwari ' method of Revenue management, under 
which each field or holding is separately assessed, and no 
holder is responsible for anything else but his own revenue, 
nor has he any common right in an allotted area of waste l . 
He is, of course, provided with certain privileges of grazing 
and wood-cutting, but the waste or unoccupied lands are 
at the disposal of Government, and given to whoever first 
applies offering to pay the assessment, when they are not 
reserved for any other special purpose. Where there are 
landlord villages, the ' North- Western ' or ' Village ' system 
of Settlement is followed ; the waste is given over to the 
village; the entire estate so made up (waste and arable 
together) is assessed to one sum of revenue, for which the 
landlord, or landlord body, are jointly and severally liable, 
and which (in case of several co-sharers) they apportion 
among themselves to pay according to their customary 
method of sharing i. e. according to the constitution of the 

31. Question as to whether one type is not a decayed 
form of the other. 

Seeing then that joint villages exist all over the Panjab, 
and largely in other parts, while in Central and Southern 

1 The adoption of this system was of each otherwise than according to 
not accomplished without some local custom fail. There were joint 
struggle. The attempt was made villages in the once Hindu island of 
in Madras and Bombay to form Java. When this island was under 
village settlements with the joint British rule (before its cession to 
responsibility for a lump sum. But the Dutch), M. de Laveleye men- 
the plan failed, because nature and tions that the Governor (Sir Stam- 
the social system were against it. ford Raffles, 1811-1816) attempted 
Conversely, where circumstances to individualize holdings by making 
are favourable, the joint system separate assessments : but the 
alone succeeds, and is accepted people immediately clubbed the 
even where the villages are really sums together and redistributed the 
raiyatwdri. Where there is a strong total, according to their own no- 
landlord body, attempts to indi- tions of responsibility and family 
vidualize property and fix the shares custom. 


India they appear only sporadically among the raiyatwdri 
villages, it is not surprising that the question should have 
been raised May it not have been the case that all villages 
were once joint, and that those which are now not so 
represent a decayed form of the other? I have already 
admitted that there are certainly cases where a joint vil- 
lage has decayed. For example, the ruler of the time 
imposes a very heavy revenue burden on a village : this 
necessitates an effort on the part of the co-sharers, and 
results in the richer ones taking more than their ancestral 
family share of the payment, and demanding to hold more 
land to make up. Thus the proper shares are upset ; then 
the co-sharers fall into poverty, sales take place, strangers 
are introduced, and in the end each holder regards him- 
self as a separate unit, and the memory of the original 
status is lost. Or, what is often the case, the leading 
families have fallen into decay, the more energetic but 
inferior caste cultivators come to the front, bear the revenue 
burden, and in the end cannot be ousted with anything 
like justice from at any rate the several but full proprietor- 
ship of their lands. But all experience shows that such 
is the tenacity with which the superior classes remember 
their rights, that the loss is rarely complete ; and it is 
hardly possible to believe that the whole districts where 
nothing but raiyatwdri villages now exist, could have owed 
their present state to a wholesale loss of rights. Nor is it 
easy to see how in such a case some villages exhibit traces 
of ' mirasi ' claims and others not. 

32. Illustrations of decay of Landlord claims. 

I should like here to allude more specially to the cases 
where landlord claims existed and were lost, to show at 
any rate that I do not leave them out of account. It is 
certainly the case that in Madras the ' mirasi ' claims had 
often become very faint, but it is equally certain that the 
' mirasi ' or landlord right was not a uniform feature of all 

L 2 


There is an interesting paper on tenures in the Bombay 
Dakhan, by Col. Sykes l , in which it is clearly shown that, 
after the overthrow of the great kingdoms which had 
adopted the Buddhist faith, and to which the well-known 
cave temples of Alura (Ellora) and Karli are due, the 
races, which afterwards rose to power as the Marathas, con- 
quered the country. And Col. Sykes finds many traces of 
their allotting the land on landlord-shares. The shares of 
families were called by the now forgotten Hindi term 
' thai ' (perhaps the same as the tula or tola). But fortune 
had not favoured them ; and most of the holdings, at the time 
when Col. Sykes wrote were found in a decayed state, 
described as 'gat-kul,' i.e. the 'family' (kula) is 'lost' 
(gata). Where the landlord families had survived, the 
Muhammadans called them ' mirasdars,' and there were 
also successors who had purchased the ' miras ' right. But 
it was evident that these cases represented estates appro- 
priated here and there, by conquering families ; and very 
likely were the result of the break-up of larger overlord 
estates of early Marathd rajas or chiefs. This case does 
not lead to the conclusion that the landlord type was once 
universal and that the raiyatwari type is merely, as a 
general rule, the decay of it. 

In Bengal again, all village rights have been generally 
obliterated. This is due to the arrangements made in the 
decline of the Mughal rule for the management of the 
State Kevenues. This we shall describe presently. Here 
I am only concerned to remark that the destructive 
influence did not change one kind of village into another 
but destroyed all alike. 

33. Resume of the position. 

In short, when we consider the evidence we have that the 
earlier races, and the lower castes, among the Aryans, all 

1 Published in 1835, Journal of the 'thalwai,' and the ancient lists of 
Royal Asiatic Society, vol. ii. p. 206. shares, which survived, were ' thal- 
The holder of the ' thai ' was called jara.' 


held land separately, by right of first clearance 1 , and that 
we can in so many cases trace distinctly the growth of 
landlord rights in villages over an older race of cultivators 
who always had certain tangible rights in the soil ; when 
we can prove that landlord villages (as we see them) are 
due (in the Panjab) to special movements of colonizing 
bodies, who occupied virgin soil independently ; and in the 
North- West Provinces and Oudh, to the dismemberment of 
kingdoms and ruling families, and also largely to later 
acquisitions of title by revenue-farmers and purchasers ; we 
must come to the conclusion that the two types of village 
are due to original independent causes ; and though in 
individual cases, a joint village may decay into a raiyat- 
wdri, or a village of the latter type may be formed, by 
revenue administrative measures, into a joint village, such 
a transformation is local and occasional: it is not the 
general and everywhere operative cause of there being 
two types of village. 

34. Differences and common features of the two types 
of Village. The Village artisans. 

Let us now glance at the characteristic differences be- 
tween the ' raiyatwari ' and the ' landlord ' village. 

Certain features, however, both have in common. In 
both there is an area of cultivated land and an area (very 
often) for grazing and wood-cutting 2 , though the title, and 
the method of using that, are of course markedly different. 
In both there will probably (but not always) be a central 
residence site, and surrounding it, an open space for a 

1 And be it always remembered, as the humbler cultivating classes. 
the leading members of the higher 2 It is most unfortunate that in 

castes would not themselves touch these days, when such an area has 

a plough. Hence they who fur- been given over absolutely to the 

nished the landlord class were (landlord) village they have been 

always rulers, military chiefs, tempted to break it up for cultiva- 

or state officials in some grade. tion, and now are hard pressed for 

Humbler members of high caste, fuel and grazing, unless there are 

whpm necessity compelled to take Government forests or fuel reserves 

the plough and spade, fell to the and grazing grounds in which they 

lower level, and contented them- can find a supply, 
selves with the same sort of tenure 


pond, grove, cattle-stand, &c. &c. In both there will be the 
arable fields with their boundary marks, and their little 
subdivisions of earth ridges made for retaining the rain or 
other irrigation-water. Under both forms, the people 
require the aid of certain functionaries, artisans and traders. 
They need a village messenger and night-watch, as well 
as some one to guard the crops : if it is an irrigated village 
probably some one will be required to distribute the water, 
to stop this channel and open that, when, according 
to the village custom of sharing the water, the different 
parties have had their due share. A potter will be 
required to furnish the simple household utensils or to 
make waterpots where the Persian wheel is used in wells. 
A seller of brass or copper pots will also be found in larger 
villages. A cobbler will make the village shoes and the 
plough harness or gear. A carpenter will fashion the 
agricultural implements and help in the housebuilding. 
A money broker will be needed, and some one to sell 
tobacco, drugs, salt, flour, spices, oil and other necessaries 
of life. Sometimes a dancing girl is attached to the 
village ; always a barber, who is the agent for carrying 
marriage proposals, besides his functions as barber and 
also surgeon. Sometimes there is an ' astrologer' and 
even a ' witch-finder/ 

The staff varies in different places according to locality. 
In Central India we find this staff, theoretically twelve in 
number, called the ' bara bulauti.' 

In England such artisans in a village would casually 
settle where the prospects of trade invited, and would in- 
differently accept work from any comer, being paid by the 
job. But in India, and this applies equally to both forms 
of village, the village community invites or attracts to 
itself the requisite bands of artisans, finds them almost 
exclusive employment, and does not pay by the job for 
services rendered, but establishes a regular income or 
customary mode of annual payment, on receipt of which, 
every village resident is entitled to have his work done 
without further (individual) payment. In Central India, 


where the system of remuneration by 'watan' or official 
holdings of land found most favour, we find not only the 
headman or patel and the accountant (kulkarni) with 
their official holdings of land, but also petty holdings rent- 
free for the potter, the sweeper, the water-carrier, &c. In 
other places the more common method was to allow the 
artisans certain definite shares when the grain was divided 
at the harvest; besides which they received periodically 
certain perquisites, in the shape of blankets, shoes, tobacco, 
or sugar-cane juice. It is not necessary for me to quote 
any detailed account of the village servants. Elphinstone 
has taken his we]l-known account from Central Southern 
India, Malcolm has given the detail from Central India. 
The numbers and names of -the artisans of course vary in 
different parts 1 . 

1 See Elphinstone (Cowell's 6th 
edition 1 ', page 69 and notes, and 
Malcolm (the reprint of 1880), 
vol. ii. p. 16, Phillips, p. 23. The 
following is a list of village servants 
as recorded for the Gujranwala dis- 
trict of the Panjab. This will serve 
as a fair general sample of how 
these people are paid. Their occu- 
pation, as well as the right to serve 
the village, is often hereditary. The 
villages here spoken of are landlord 

1. The blacksmith (lohar^. His 
dues are one bhari or wheat-sheaf in 
each harvest, one pai in money on 
each plough, two seers of molasses 
(gur), and also one jar of sugarcane 
juice daily, while the press (belna) 
is working ; and he is allowed to 
have one day's picking at the cotton- 
field at the end of the season. 

2. The carpenter (tarkhan). He 
makes the well woodwork, handles 
for tools, beds (charpai), stools, &c. 
His dues are much the same as the 

3. The kumhar or potter, who 
makes household utensils and also 

4. The ' rera' or grass-rope maker ; 
the ropes are necessary to form the 
bands over the well-wheel which 
carry the water-pots. He gets one 

' bhari ' and four topas of grain per 

5. The ' chuhra ' or sweeper. He 
cleans the corn, cleans the cattle- 
sheds, and makes the manure into 
cakes for fuel : a place for drying 
these cakes is often a recognized 
common allotment outside the vil- 
lage site. 

6. The ' mochi ' or cobbler and 
chamar, who also has a right to 
appropriate the skins of the cattle 
that die. 

7. The 'hajjam ' or ' nai.' He is 
the barber, but also carries messages 
and proposals connected with mar- 
riages and betrothals, and serves 
also at funerals. 

8. The ' dhobi ' or washerman. 

9. The 'jhewar' (this is a local 
term), equivalent to ' bihisti ' or 

Besides there may be the village 
astrologer and musician (mirasi) 
and various religious office-holders 
the purohit, or brahman, a faqir 
who keeps' the takya or village 
place of assembly ; the ' maulvi ' 
for the mosque service, a ' bhai ' at 
a temple called dharmsala, a ' sadh ' 
at a thakurdwara, a pujari at a 
shivala (^temple of Siva), and a ma- 
hant of a ' devidwara ' (other 


35. The Headman. 

Having noticed what the villages have in common, we 
may proceed to describe the points in which they differ. 

If I had to select a characteristic difference between the 
two types of village, I should find it in the ' headman.' 

When the village consists of a number of loosely aggre- 
gated cultivating occupants, it is very natural that they 
should choose or recognize some one of their number to 
be their headman. Possibly this man is, or represents, the 
leader of the original settlers, or is in some other way 
marked out as a trusty and privileged person. He is 
referred to to decide local disputes, to allot lands when 
cultivation extends, and so forth. And when the village 
comes under a definite State organization and pays a 
revenue to the ruler, most naturally that ruler looks to the 
headman for the punctual realization of his rights. His 
importance and dignity are then enhanced because he 
becomes vested with a certain measure of State authority, 
and is probably remunerated by the State. His office is 
hereditary, or becomes so, and the State does not interfere, 
except in some case of manifest personal incompetence, 
and then probably another member of the family is se- 
lected, at any rate to the practical functions of the office l . 

Where the headman is (as in Central India) allowed an 
official holding of land his watan, as it is called the 
office becomes still more desirable. In these parts it will 
generally be found that the 'patel' owns the best land; 
he is also the owner of the central site in the village, 
frequently an enclosed space of some size, fortified perhaps 
by mud walls ; and within this only members of the family, 
all of whom will be addressed as 'patel,' reside, when 
other houses are situated around and below. We shall 

1 Some trouble must have been exercised the functions in a sort of 

felt in former days when (in Central rotation, one member for one year 

India) the patel's family multiplied. (or whatever it might be), and then 

They seem to have regarded the the next, 
headman's office as jointly held, and 


afterwards hear of great princes being anxious to hold the 
' patelship ' of villages and the ( watan ' l land pertaining to 
it, because of the permanence and stability of this form 
of right. 

Now in the landlord village, naturally the headman as 
such, did not exist. The proprietary families were too 
jealous of their equal rights to allow of any great degree 
of authority residing in one head. Their system was to 
manage village affairs by a council of the heads of families 
called ' panchayat.' 

It is true that in landlord villages, either one headman, 
or one headman for each division is now to be found ; but 
that is an appointment of the State, and for administrative 
purposes. In former days such a single headman selected 
to answer for the revenue and deal generally on behalf of 
the villages with the State officers, was called ' muqaddam 2 / 
In our own times, such a headman has received the name 
of ' lambardar ' (the representative whose name bears a 
separate 'number' in the Collector's register of persons 
primarily responsible for the revenue), and this modern 
term at once marks that, in the landlord village, the head- 
man is no part of the original social system. The State 
now usually recognizes his right to office as hereditary, 
and desires to make it to some extent elective also. But 
this is with a view of popularizing the institution. It is 
essentially an administrative addition to the village. 
Where a landlord village is united, it still keeps up its 
panchayat, and where the institution is falling into dis- 
credit and the patwari or some energetic ' lambardar ' 
begins to dominate, we may be sure that poverty and 
decay are affecting the body. 

1 See remarks on the watan in the the latter the direct duty of paying 
next section. in the revenue. This is because 

2 In the Central Provinces they under the particular circumstances 
still keep the name ' muqaddam ' of these provinces, it is possible that 
(or in the Hindi form Mukadam) as the functions of office may be 
well as lambardar, the former ex- divided between two persons, 
pressing the executive functions, 


36. Other Village officials. 

Just as an artisan staff is found (necessarily) under 
either form of village, so the accountant ('patwari' in 
Upper India, ' karnam ' in the South, ' kulkarni ' in the 
West) is found. Originally in non-landlord villages, he 
was a State officer, and in the others more the servant 
of the proprietary body. But now, of necessity, he is a 
Government servant pure and simple, paid, controlled and 
appointed by the State, and subject to certain tests of 
efficiency. To popularize the institution, the office is 
allowed to be hereditary, supposing a next heir is fit, and 
is sent to school to qualify himself. 

The village 'watchman' is also an important officer in 
both, as he is utilized and often controlled by Government 
as a sort of village policeman. 

37. General statement of differences. 

I may perhaps best show at a glance the differences 
between the villages by arranging in parallel columns 
a list of characteristic features. 


VILLAGE (Punjab, Nort h- West Provinces, 

(Bombay, Madras). Oudh, and Central Provinces). 

1. The revenue is assessed i. The -revenue is assessed 
on each field or holding. No on the village as a whole, and 
responsibility of one man for the burden is distributed by 
another's default. the co-proprietors themselves. 

Village co-sharers are jointly 
and severally liable for the 

2. The village site is not 2. The village site is owned 
owned by any one landlord, by the proprietary body, who 
except as far as each occupant allow residences to 
householder is owner of his (i) the ' kamin,' the artisan 
site. The patel has often a class, farm labourers, and 
large central residence. menials. 

(2) The tenantry. 


(3) The traders. money 
lenders, &c. 

These probably pay some 
small dues, according to cus- 
tom ; and if they leave the 
village may have no right to 
dispose of the site, and only in 
some cases to remove the roof 
timbers and other materials. 

3. The waste outside for 3. The waste is allotted to 
grave-yard, cattle-shed, pond, the village, forms part of the 
grove, &c., &c., is Government estate, and if wanted for culti- 
land, the area of which is vation, is partitioned among 
allowed to the villages for the share-holders. 

these purposes, and this land 
cannot be diverted from such 

No waste area is granted 
jointly to the village. Prob- 
ably the use of some available 
land for grazing, &c., is allowed ; 
and if there are waste numbers 
which may be cultivated, they 
must be applied for (and reve- 
nue paid thereon) to the land 

4. The headman is an im- 4. The village government 
portant functionary and part is by the panchayat or group 
of the original constitution. of heads of families. The 

headman is called ' lambar- 
dar,' and is (as the name in- 
dicates) a later addition, and 
exists chiefly for revenue and 
administrative purposes. 

5. The accountant (patwari, &c.), watchman, messenger, 
artisan, and labourer staff are common to both forms. 

38. Constitution of the Raiyativdri or Non-landlord 


Naturally there is little to be said about the consti- 
tution of the non-landlord village. 


There is no room for any variety in tenure; for each 
man is master and manager of his own holding. Modern 
law defines his tenure as ' occupant,' or leaves it undefined 
as the case may be, and there is no question of sharing on 
this principle or that. Nor have I heard of anything like 
a common account of expenses chargeable to the whole 
village and which is rateably levied on the members. 

All that we could have to say about the village would 
be to describe the routine of cultivation, of how the head- 
man acts if his intervention is called for, and how once in 
the year there is the settling up (jamabandi) with the 
State officer as to what revenue is chargeable, what fields 
have been held, what taken up, and what, if any, relin- 
quished, and what remissions are claimable (if the particular 
system allows this). But such a description would be one 
of social life or of revenue administration, rather than of 
land-tenure, and I shall dismiss the subject by quoting 
a pleasant account of the raiyatwari village (as found in 
Southern India), which I read in the Goddvari District 
Manual : 

' Each village 1 constituted in itself a perfect whole. Un- 
heeding the changes which may have taken place in the 
Government above them, the cultivators of the ground quietly 
continued their daily avocations. They yoked their bullocks 
to the plough, and followed them in their uneven course. They 
drew the scanty supply of water from the neighbouring stream 
or tank, and wrangled over the precious liquid. They cast 
their seed into the saturated soil, and transplanted the tender 
sprouts of the growing paddy. They gathered in the harvest, 
and tended their bullocks as they trod out the grain. The 
simple household routine went on as quietly and swiftly then 
as now. The women met at the village well and joined in the 
petty gossip of the day. The only excitement occurred on the 

1 Godavari District Manual, p. 247. are the staples. Eice villages are 

This is a ' wet ' or irrigated village mostly found in South and West 

chiefly cultivating rice. Rice is Bombay, in East Bengal, in Madras, 

not the staple food of India, as and in a few other localities on a 

is sometimes supposed. Through- smaller scale. It is the food of 

out the North and North-Central only a very limited portion of the 

India wheat, barley, and millets population. 


occasion of some feast in their own or a neighbouring village, 
or of a journey to the festival at some sacred shrine. The 
village shopkeeper sat cross-legged behind his store and offered 
loans at an extravagant rate of interest. The village scribe 
and accountant were employed in writing the accounts on 
palm-leaves, or drawing up the simple bonds and documents 
executed by the ryots, and in assisting the village magistrate 
in his rude administration of justice under the spreading 
branches of the village tree, where all trials were held and 
business transacted.' 

39. Constitution of the Joint or Landlord Village. 

There is much more to be said about the landlord village, 
because it is in the nature of things that there should be 
changes in its course of existence. Suppose, for example, 
that the village is gained by a single grantee as landlord ; 
before long his sole tenure whatever its limits will be 
replaced by the joint tenure of a body of heirs 1 . Suppose, 
again, that the village has from the first been founded by 
several ' landlords ' jointly ; it is improbable that they will 
long remain joint ; they will divide the land wholly or par- 
tially, and then the shares will, from some cause or another, 
become altered or lost sight of. Moreover, as we have 
seen, there are joint or landlord villages where from the 
first, the principle of sharing is not that of the inheritance 
law, but some other. 

Evidently then there are many points to be dealt with 
before we have done with the joint or landlord tenure of 
villages. The Revenue books have adopted, for the North- 
West Provinces, some terms which describe the various 
conditions of jointness, or division (or partial division) in 
which the landlord village may be found. They are 
unfortunate terms ; and we shall presently see, from a 

1 I take it for granted that the followed by agriculturists. Primo- 

reader is aware that by the Hindu geniture only applies to succession 

law, and by custom also, the sue- to royal or ruling chief's titles and 

cession of heirs is joint Even by their appanages. This subject is 

the Muhammadan law also it is, enlarged upon in the concluding 

though the strict law is not largely section. 


quotation which I shall make, how they mislead people ; 
but it is necessary that they should be understood. 

Where there was a landlord claim over the village, 
such as that of a revenue farmer who had become pro- 
prietor, or of some chief or other high caste personage who 
had, many generations ago, acquired the superior title, they 
expressed the right by the term ' zamindari.' I suppose it 
was meant that the landlord in his small estate had that 
sort of not very definite ' holding of land ' which is indicated 
by the native term, and which was also applied to the much 
larger estate-holder called ' Zamindar ' in Bengal. 

40. Meaning of Zaminddri Village. 

If the landlord were a single person, the term indicating 
the tenure was ' zamindari khalis '= simple or sole landlord 
tenure. When however the original grantee or acquirer of 
the village had died and was represented by a family who 
as yet remained joint, they called it ' zamindari mushtarka ' 
the joint or co-sharing landlord tenure. It ought to be 
needless to remark that the term zaminddri by itself 
conveys no suggestion of jointness or common-holding in 
any way whatever. But whether it was that the full 
phrase ' zamindari mushtarka,' was too long, or whether it 
was that so few villages had a single landlord, and so 
many a co-sharing body, I cannot say ; but in practice, 
writers came commonly to use the word ' zamindari village 
tenure,' as if it meant the tenure of a still undivided 

In joint tenures, as long as the body could agree together, 
they would remain undivided. In such cases the land was 
generally leased out to tenants ; or only certain fields culti- 
vated by one or more of the landlord body, for which rent 
was credited to the community. One of the family would 
act as ' manager,' and keep an account of the rents received 
and any other profits, and would charge against this the 
Government revenue and cesses, and the charges debitable 
to the village as a whole cost of alms, of entertainment 


of strangers, &c. and finally would distribute the surplus 
according to shares. 

41. The Pattiddri Village. 

But very often in quite the majority of cases indeed 
the family agreed to divide ; so that many joint villages 
are found in a state of division or severalty as regards the 
cultivation and enjoyment of the land. This may have 
existed only since a few years, or it may have been so 
from 'time immemorial.' Ordinarily, when the family is 
descended from some single village 'founder/ the shares 
will be mainly those of the ancestral ' tree,' and follow the 
law of inheritance. A sharer here and there may be holding 
a few (or many) acres more or less than his share ; but 
the general scheme is easily traced and is acknowledged 
by the co-sharers. When this is the case the village is 
said to be ' pattidari,' because the primary division, repre- 
senting the main branches of the family are called ' patti.' 
It will be borne in mind that ' pattidari ' properly means 
not only a village held in severalty, but also held in shares 
which are wholly (or at least in part) ancestral, i.e. those of 
law of inheritance. Some villages will be found where the 
primary division is into ' tarf,' and the tarf is divided into 
pattis ; but where that is the case it may imply some 
ancient union of two or more distinct bodies who settled 
together or some other cause operating later in the history 
of the village. I know of villages where one ' tarf ' con- 
sists wholly of Hindus and the other of Muhammadan 
converts, or where one is of one caste and the other of 
another. This is obviously a special or exceptional state 
of things. So that in the typical village body descended 
from a common ancestor, the ' Patti ' is the main-branch 
division. The ' patti ' is sub-divided into ' thula ' or ' tola ' 
or 'thok' (three various names), and then into 'beriV 

1 I am not sure of this word. I 'bheri,' and even 'bhari.' Wilson's 
find it variously written 'behri,' Glossary does not give it, nor Elliott's. 


Below the ' beri ' come the ' khata,' or individual holdings. 
This will be clearer from a diagram (which I have adapted 
from that in the Selections from the Records of Government, 
North-West Provinces (Revenue] for 181 8-1822). It will be 
observed that the fraction held by each is here represented 
by the bisiva, or twentieth of the ' bigha/ which (in the 
North-West Provinces) is the usual land-measure. But 
sometimes it is expressed in ' annas ' and ' pai ' fractions 
of a rupee regarded as the unit or whole. 

In order to count up to the smallest of the sub-divisions, 
custom has established, in various parts, minute fractions 
far below the ' biswa ' or the ' anna.' Instances will be 
found detailed in the chapter on North-West Provinces 
tenures. Thus we have the anna, not only divided into pai, 
but the pai into kauri, and the kauri into gandd, &c. 
In the present case, the whole estate consists of 2000 
bighas of land ; accordingly this area represents the whole, 
or 'bigha.' Then, a man who owns a four-biswa share, owns 
four-twentieths (one-fifth) of 2000, or 400 bighas, and pays 
one-fifth of the revenue ; so, if the revenue is Rs.iooo, he will 
hold 400 bighas, and pay (one-fifth of Rs. 1000 = ) Rs. 200*. 
In the example it is evident that the ' pattis,' which are 
here the primary shares, represent a state of the property 
when the family consisted of two brothers (A and B) in one 
branch, and three brothers (C, D, E) in another branch, in 
parity of descent. The fathers of these two branches were 
equal ; for A and B have half (4 + 6 biswas) between 
them, and C, D, E (5 + 3 + 2 biswas) the other half, between 
them. Observe that A and B ought to have five biswas 
each ; but, owing to some inequality of value some sale 
or other accidental circumstance one has four, and the 
other six. So, too, the shares of A's sons have become 
unequal. Under each share I have marked the area (in 

1 If we were counting by fractions counted by fractions of a rupee the 

of the rupee, a man who held 400 shares would be in even numbers, 

bighas out of 2000 and paid Rs.aoo as i anna, 2 anna or | anna, , &c. 

out of Rs. 1000 revenue, would be Such a fraction as 3* annas would 

said to hold a '3^ anna share' of only occur if the share had become 

the estate. Probably in an estate varied by sale, &c. 


bighas and biswas), and the share of the revenue paid in 


Area 2000 bighas. 
Land-Revenue assessed Rs. 1000. 

(might form a 'tarf'). (might form a ' tarf'). 
Patti A. Patti B. Patti C. Patti D. Patti E. total. 

Share. 6 'biswas' ( 4 bis. ( 5 bis. ( 3 bis. ( 2 bis. ( = 20 
Holding. 600 B. ) 400 B. j 500 B. j 300 B. | 200 B. < = 2000 
Paying. 300 Rupees ( 200 R. ( 250 R. ( 150 R. ( 100 R. ( = 1000 


[These may all be subdivided in the 
same way : or in one or other branch 
all the descendants but one or two 
may be dead, and the whole patti be 
held by the survivors. ] 

Thok I. 
3^ biswa share. 
350 B. 

175 R. 

Thok 'II. 
2| biswa share. 
125 R. 


1 1 
Beri i. Beri 2. Beri 3. Beri 4. 
(Each) 1 of a biswa. &c. &c. &c. 
87 B. 10 b. ^ -Y- -^ 
R. 43 as 12. Remain undivided 
Divided into (say) 
4 equal ' Khata ' 
or individual holdings. 

1 i 
Beri 5. Beri 6. 
i biswa. &c. 
125 B. 
R. 62 as 8. 

There may, or may not, be the last division (khata). 
Possibly the ' beri ' may be enjoyed by some sons or grand- 
sons jointly. But the sharers will be on the list, with 
their fractional interest recorded. So that the individual 
proprietors are called, in Revenue language, the ' khatedars.' 

There are many villages in which, as far as we can tell, 
a separation of 'pattis,' and perhaps some minor sub- 
divisions, have existed from the first colonization, found- 
ation, or acquisition of the village. 

42. The fihdidchdrd Village. 

But one of the curiosities of tribal history in India is 
that, owing to whatever cause, all tribes, clans, or families 
did not adopt the same system indeed, I believe it is the 

VOL. I. M 


case that different sections of the same tribe adopted dif- 
ferent methods. Some tribes had no Rajas or greater chiefs, 
and all the families were exactly equal under their seve- 
ral heads or elders ; and on settling in a new place they 
adopted a different method of allotting the land. One of 
the first forms of joint village to be discovered (in Benares) 
was a form of village called ' bhaiachara ' i.e. held by the 
custom (achara) of the brotherhood (bhai). There is no 
sort of question that these villages were of the joint type, 
i. e. they were held by castemen of the higher orders, and that 
they formed close communities, regarding themselves as 
landlords and superior to all other people on the estate ; but 
still they did not adopt any system of sharing based on the 
place in the ancestral 'tree,' but started (when the village 
first was founded) with an equal division of land, often 
adopting curious area-measures or standards for dividing, 
which were not the ordinary land measures or ' bighas,' but 
were ' bhaiachara bighas,' measures of a larger size, and 
arranged so as to consist of several plots of the different 
qualities of land ; or to be small in the best soil and larger in 
the inferior. The other distinguishing feature of this tenure 
was that the holders did not merely undertake the share of 
the revenue burden which corresponded to their fractional 
interest in the estate 1 , but they distributed so that the pay- 
ment should always correspond to the holding ; and in many 
of the villages (notably in the Bundelkhand districts) there 
was a system of equalization known as ' bhejbarar 2 ,' which 
consisted sometimes in exchange of holdings, but more 
especially in a redistribution of the payments, according to 
the actual holdings ; so that if one sharer in the course of 
time found his holding diminished or its productive power 
fall off, he could or rather, when things were ripe for it, the 

1 In a regular pattiddri or fractional pay one-fourth of the revenue, al- 
estate two men hold one-fourth each, though this was out of all pro- 
let us say : each pays one-fourth portion to the real value of the 
of the revenue of the whole. But land. 

one man's one-fourth may become 2 The papers are collected in Se- 

extraordinarily profitable by irri- lections from the Records of Government, 

gation, &c. and the other one-fourth North-West Provinces, Part VIII, No. 

might remain as it was and even 34 (Report by H. Rose, Collector of 

deteriorate. Still each would only Banda). 


community could procure a readjustment of the burdens 
according to the actual state of each holding and the rela- 
tive value of them. 

43. Extended use of the term Bhdidchdrd. 

But the term ' bhaiachara ' soon got to be used not only 
for a special class of tenures, but for all tenures of co- 
sharers when there was no ancestral system of fractional 
shares, but when some other principle of distribution had 
always been followed, or where, if a fractional system had 
once been followed, it had fallen into disuse. 

In many cases where the village was due to a body who 
joined forces to colonize and settle, they divided the area of 
which they became the landlords, not by family-shares, but 
by the number of ploughs each brought ; or simply, land 
being abundant, each man took as much land as he wanted 
or could manage, and that became the measure of his 
interest in the entire estate ; or a certain number of wells 
were sunk and a certain area was commanded by each well, 
and then shares in the irrigation became the measure of 
interest ; either shares by inheritance from one original 
well-sinker, or shares depending on the capital expended by 
several who joined in the sinking. 

And it is to be remembered that a great number of old 
villages over which no landlord claims had ever arisen 
(or had disappeared), and in which the really individual 
holders had no system of sharing, exist in Oudh and the 
North -West Provinces, and probably in the Panjab. Such 
villages would have remained raiyatwdri in form but for 
the revenue-system. In them the holder speaks of his 
field as his ' dadillahi,' the Divine gift, and has no idea 
of shares. 

All these forms, owing to the absence of any fractional 
ancestral share scheme, became equally confused under the 
common name of ' bhaiachara.' 

The same thing happened with villages where ancestral 
shares once existed, but had been lost or allowed to fall 

M 2 


into abeyance. A long course of oppressive assessments, 
the results of efforts to meet the burden (the proprietors 
earnestly striving not to lose their land), long absence of 
some co-sharers 1 , poverty of others, the necessity for sales, 
and the voluntary surrender of unprofitable lands, all 
these accidents might cause the old shares to be forgotten 
or given up, and to substitute a new scale of possession out 
of harmony with the rules of descent. In some cases, while 
the shares were lost as regards the land, they were adhered 
to in dividing minor profits of the estate, or in dividing out 
the waste. Where this is the case, it is proof positive that 
the village was once an ancestrally shared estate. Such 
cases are equally called ' bhaiachara ' in reports. 

The subdivision of all kinds of bhaiachara estates is into 
' patti/ ' thok,' ' ben',' &c., as in the other form ; and the 
major division into 'tarf is commoner. 

The student will pardon my repeating once more that 
the term ' bhaiachara ' now includes : 

(i) Villages where some special form of division or 

occupation at founding was adopted. 
Real landlord \ (2) Villages once ancestrally shared, but where the 


shares have been (wholly or partly) lost or 

Properly raiyat- ( 

wari villages j (3) Villages never shared at all each man's posses- 

sion is the measure of his right. 

become joint un- 
der the Revenue 


44. Partition of joint Waste under hdidchdrd method. 

Where there is no real system of sharing, or where shares 
have been completely lost, and the partition of the waste 
included in the estate by the North- West Revenue System 
is called for, it will be distributed in the same proportion 
as the original holding bears to the whole. 

1 ' Absentee rules' were well allow it unconditionally, others 

known in our early Settlements, would fix a term of years, or im- 

and the records constantly specified pose conditions. Often too a man 

the village custom as to what was would get back, but only to a small 

to be done if an absentee returned portion of his share, 
and claimed his share. Some would 


For instance, a man's actual possession is 50 acres out 
of a village of 2500 acres, all told. In fact, he is owner of 
one-fiftieth ; so that on dividing the waste, he will get 
one-fiftieth of the area whatever it is. 

Or, if the acres of the principal or original holding are 
valuable, and so pay a higher proportion of the revenue- 
assessment, it may be that the waste will be allotted accord- 
ing to the proportion of the total revenue paid ; and then 
if the man pays (say) not one-fiftieth, but one-twentieth of 
the revenue, he will get one-twentieth of the waste area 1 . 

45. ' Perfect ' and ' imperfect ' forms of Shared Village. 

It is usual in the Revenue reports and returns to find 
a further classification heading ' imperfect pattidari ' or 
' imperfect bhaiachara. ' These terms, however, merely call 
attention to a feature which is of no importance whatever 
from the tenure point of view. They mean nothing more 
than that when the estate was divided, whether according 
to ancestral-fractional shares (pattidari), or according to 
some other method (bhaiachara), the co-sharers did not care 
to divide up the whole, but left a part still joint. This might 
(and commonly did) happen, as there was an obvious con- 
venience in it. 

Suppose, for instance, that a considerable part of the 
village is held by or let out to tenants, or perhaps held by 
irremoveable, privileged tenants. It may be that the rents 
they pay suffice, wholly or partially, to pay the revenue. I 
have known many villages where this is the case, especially 
in sugar-cane growing villages, which command a high 
rental. In that case there is no object in dividing ; the 
part that is separately enjoyed is held then by each sharer 
virtually revenue free. If the rental of the undivided 
portion does not happen to cover the revenue, then the 

1 This form of partition is then in the 'Khewat' a list of share- 
said, in revenue language, to be holders and their payments made 
' hasb rasad khewat,' or in pro- out for every estate, 
portion to the actual interest shown 


deficit is made up by a rateable charge on the co-sharers 
according to their constitution. There may be other rea- 
sons for not dividing the whole estate, but the example is 
intelligible, and represents an extremely common case. 
This may be realized by looking at their statistics in the 
chapters on the North- West Provinces and Panjab. 

46. A better principle of classification required. 

It is unfortunate that these old terms are still made use 
of in the Imperial returns : they were useful enough in 
their day as office distinctions when village tenures were 
just beginning to be understood. But they are as ineffi- 
cient now as the Linnsean system is to the modern botanist. 
They distinguish matters that are of no importance, and 
confuse together things that it is essential to keep separate. 

A more suitable classification could be easil}'- adopted, 
and I have ventured to suggest one which will be found in 
the chapter on the North -West Province tenures, and which 
is based on the distinction of cases where (i) the ancestral 
shares are followed wholly, or (2) partly, or (3) are theoreti- 
cally allowed and recorded, but not acted on in practice, or 
(4) where some other plan of sharing is recognized, and (5) 
it might distinguish cases in which individual possession 
is the only measure of right, and where there is no plan 
of sharing at all, and never was. 

47. The Proprietor's ' Sir' Land. 

Before leaving the subject of the joint village, I should 
like to explain the term ' sir.' It constantly occurs in such 
phrases as ' the proprietor enjoys his sir land practically 
without payment,' or ' the proprietor is never ousted from 
the occupation of his sir, except,' &c. 

It refers to the home-farm or land which the landlord or 
co-sharer holds directly in his own management, either 
cultivating it himself, or by his farm-servants or personal 


The distinction arose out of the fact that the landlord's 
right was so often superimposed on older rights. A modus 
Vivendi had to be found ; it was so, partly in the method of 
sharing produce, but chiefly in this, that while the landlords 
had certain rents from the whole estate, they left the actual 
management of a great part to the old ' tenants ' of the 
village, who naturally held on somewhat easy terms ; and 
each proprietor took for his own direct farming and profit 
such area of usually the best land as his share and other 
circumstances entitled him to. That was called his 'sir' = 
his ' own ' !. Even if there should be no ancient rights on 
the estate, still the owners may be non-agriculturists and 
be obliged to lease out the greater part to tenants, retaining 
only special lands, the entire produce of which (or rather 
a larger share of it) goes to themselves. 

Legally speaking, the term has become of importance, 
because under all Revenue systems based on the North -West 
Provinces model, there are certain privileges connected 
with the f sir.' For instance, if by default in payment of 
revenue, or on refusal to engage, a co- sharer is put out of 
possession, he still retains his sir on a tenant-right. And 
a tenant who proves that he has fallen to that grade, being 
an ' ex-proprietor,' has always a privileged occupancy 
tenure of his former ' sir.' So also (in the Central Pro- 
vinces) occupancy rights conferred by law on certain classes 
of tenants do not apply to ' sir ' lands, and it becomes of 
importance to define in the tenant law exactly what is to 
be regarded as ' sir ' and what is not 2 . 

In raiyatwdri, or non-landlord villages, there is, of course, 
no room for any such distinction. The ' watan ' lands of 
the ptel (where such a system prevails) are the analogue 
of the ' sir ' in the landlord village. Though we are here 
concerned only with villages, I may nevertheless take the 

1 In the Panjab, where the pro- culty had arisen from the definition 
prietors are so very often them- of 'sir' that was in force, and one 
selves of the agricultural class, we of the amendments of the law in 
hear much less frequently this term 1889 was directed to correct the 
1 sir ' land. definition. 

2 In the Central Provinces diffi- 


opportunity of remarking that in any form of landlord 
estate, the landlord will, or may, hold 'sir' land. Thus 
with the greater landlords called ' Zamindar ' in Bengal, 
or Taluqdar in Oudh, they had ' sir ' lands which were 
sometimes exempt from paying revenue under the name of 
' nankar,' and were also exempt from all those privileges of 
occupancy to tenants which accrued on the ordinary lands 
of the estate 1 . 

48. Present state of the Joint -Villages. 

In the North -West Provinces the sentiment of joint-land- 
lordship seems to be decaying. Some of the villages were, 
as I said, never really joint at all ; they became so under 
our system ; hence a strong principle of coherence is hardly 
to be looked for. Of those that are really joint, many are 
owned by families descended from an ancestor who was 
once ruler, conqueror, or grantee ; and a great many from 
revenue-farmers and auction-purchasers. None of these had 
any attachment to land as land, since they did not belong 
to castes who themselves cultivate the soil. I believe I am 
right in saying that the individualization of land and the 
loss of the joint interest is proceeding apace. The pan- 
cTidyats and lambardars have little influence : the landholders 
apply for leave to pay their own revenue direct to the local 
treasury instead of through the headman of their ' patti ' or 
their village, as the case may be, ' Perfect ' partition, which 
not only divides the land, but also completely severs the 
revenue responsibility, is allowed. The result is the growth 
of independent petty proprietors, but still more of capitalist 
landlords, who buy up first one field and then (availing 
themselves of the right of pre-emption) another. They 
are not men of the agricultural class, but must employ 

1 Supposing a ' Zamindar ' has as is absolutely under his landlord's 

leased his land to an indigo planter. control, i. e. on the Zamindar's 

The tenants hate growing indigo, ' sir ' land. Hence the importance 

and the lessee can therefore only of distinguishing the 'sir.' 
compel its growth on such land 


tenants ; these naturally are found in the old land-owning 
classes, whose status is thus slowly changing. 

In the Panjab the conditions are more favourable to the 
joint-village : there is a total absence of communities 
deriving their origin from the revenue-farmer or auction- 
purchaser 1 . The villages are almost everywhere due to 
foundation by colonists or tribes of superior strength and 
character, most of whom are agriculturists ; and they seem 
to have retained more than elsewhere the sense of union 
and the power of maintaining their original status. Go- 
verned still by custom, they have hardly emerged at least 
in many districts from the stage when the feeling that 
land belongs as much to the family as to the individual is 
predominant. The law does not allow of perfect partition, 
i.e. dissolving the joint responsibility, except at Settlement 
and under special conditions. There is a rather strong law 
of pre-emption which generally enables any one in the 
village body to prevent an outsider purchasing land. The 
customary law still restricts widows to a life tenure, and 
prevents them alienating ; while in many tribes a childless 
male proprietor cannot alienate to the prejudice of his next 
heirs without their consent. There is also in many parts 
a strong ' clannish ' feeling which keeps villages together. 
Nevertheless, the power of free sale and mortgage is pro- 
ducing its results : non-agricultural capitalists are buying 
up land, and estates slowly undergo a change. Strangers 
are introduced ; the village site enlarges, and the non- 
proprietary classes successfully resist the payment of dues 
to a proprietary body, and claim the right to sell their 
houses and sites ; and gradually the old landlord body sink 
into oblivion. If large estates accumulate in the hands of 
individuals, they will again become joint if the heirs are 
numerous, and then, as the property will be not in one vil- 
lage, the estate will more and more cease to be synonymous 
with the village. 

1 The Panjab was not annexed till after the days of revenue farming 
and harsh sale laws. 


49. The Mahal and Village. 

Indeed I ought to explain that, though for convenience 
I often speak of the Revenue Settlement of villages, and 
the assessment of villages, strictly speaking this is not 
correct. The lump assessment is on what is called 
in revenue language the 'Mahal,' or lot of lands held 
under one title. This may, and does very often, coincide 
with a ' village ' ; but partitions and sales will always tend 
to make it less so. Supposing, for example, three villages 
come to be owned by a community of eight sharers, and 
they completely partition their estate : eight estates or 
' Mahals ' may then arise. Sometimes a part of one village 
is a separate estate. And there are also peculiar customs 
of allotment of shares, by which the sharers in a large 
estate of several villages may get their land, not in com- 
pact lots, but some fields here and some there in different 
villages. In time these may form separately assessed 
' Mahals.' 

When the partition of an estate results in compact lots, 
the estate is said, in revenue language, to be ' pattibat,' 
and when by scattered areas ' khetbat.' There are other 
local terms, but these are the common ones. 

50. Some further quotations regarding Villages. 

We are now in a position to appreciate some of the 
standard descriptions of the 'village community' which 
have been usually copied from book to book without any 

Here is one, which has become almost classical l : 

' The village communities are little republics, having nearly 
everything they want within themselves, and almost inde- 
pendent of any foreign relations. They seem to last when 

1 Sir C. T., afterwards Lord port of Select Committee of H. C. 
Metcalfe. In a minute of 7th Nov. '^1832), cited in Elphinstone's History 
1830, No. 84, in the App. to the Re- of India, sth ed. p. 68. 


nothing else lasts. Dynasty after dynasty tumbles down ; 
revolution succeeds to revolution ; Hindu, Pathan, Mughal, 
Maratha, Sikh, English, all are masters in turn ; but the village 
communities remain the same. In times of trouble they arm 
and fortify themselves. An hostile army passes through the 
country; the village communities collect their cattle within 
their walls and let the enemy pass unprovoked. If plunder 
and devastation be directed against themselves, and the force 
employed be irresistible, they flee to friendly villages at a dis- 
tance ; but when the storm has passed over they return and 
resume their occupations. If a country remain for a series of 
years the scene of continued pillage and massacre so that the 
villages cannot be inhabited, the scattered villagers nevertheless 
return whenever the power of peaceable possession revives. A 
generation may pass away, but the succeeding generation will 
return. The sons will take the places of their fathers ; the 
same site for the village, the same positions for their houses, 
the same lands will be re-occupied by the descendants of those 
who were driven out when the village was depopulated : and 
it is not a trifling matter that will drive them out, for they will 
often maintain their post through times of disturbance and 
convulsion, and acquire strength sufficient to resist pillage and 
oppression with success. This union of the village communities, 
each one forming a little state in itself, has, I conceive, contri- 
buted more than any other cause to the preservation of the 
people of India, through all the revolutions and changes which 
they have suffered, and is in a high degree conducive to their 
happiness and to the enjoyment of a great portion of freedom 
and independence.' 

This passage does not define, or even describe what the 
village is: it states certain characteristics, and there is, of 
course, a considerable amount of truth in it. But it should 
be remembered that there is quite another side to the same 
picture, or rather it should be said that the delineation is 
only true under certain conditions. The circumstances 
of the country necessitate the aggregation of cultivation 
in groups, and often encourage the fixing of a central and 
even defensible site for residence. But as to 'little re- 
publics,' in a large number of villages, in most provinces, 
and at one time or another, individual headmen and farmers 


of the revenue have ruled with almost undisputed power l . 
As to the villages being unchangeable, their constitution 
and form has shown a progressive tendency to decay, and 
if it had not been for modern land-revenue systems trying 
to keep it together, it may well be doubted whether it 
would have survived at all. No doubt there are cases 
in which villages have been re-established by the de- 
scendants of a former body driven out by disaster ; cases 
have been recorded, for instance, in Central India, where 
certain families who have held particular lands in virtue 
of hereditary office, and being strongly attached to the 
dignities therewith associated, have had a strong motive 
to return, as well as, in the sentiment of the people, a 
strong claim to do so ; but the invitation of the ruler 
has much to do with the return : he desires to re-establish 
deserted estates for the sake of his revenue ; and old land- 
holders are the best ; while an old headman family has an 
obvious capacity for inducing cultivators to restore the 
village 2 . When villages are refounded, it is however j ust 
as often by totally different people. 

And let us take another feature in the account quoted. 
Mughals and Sikhs, we are told, are masters in turn, but the 
village remains the same. Does it 1 The village changes 
as much as, in the nature of things, a group of lands or 
an aggregate of houses, can change. Let us picture to 
ourselves an easily recognizable case. At first the village 
was a settlement founded in the virgin waste. Here a 
leader or headman started and directed the cultivation ; each 
cultivator brought his own plough and oxen, and felt that 
the plot he cleared would be his own ; he had no connection 
with other holdings save that he obeyed the common 
headman, availed himself of the village artisan's services, 
and had to share his grain-heap with them and with 

1 See for example Mr. (now Sir which broke up the village, the de- 
C.) Crosthwaite's remarks on certain struction was not complete, but a 
villages in the Settlement Report of the nucleus was left behind. John Law- 
Etdwd district (chapter on North- rence, when Collector of the Sirsa 
West Provinces Tenures). district, noted villages there as ex- 

2 And it is sometimes the case hibiting this characteristic, 
that when the disaster occurred 


the Raja, and had to unite with his fellows whenever 
common defence was necessary. Then let us suppose the 
Raja's cousin receives a grant of the village and becomes 
landlord, taking most of the waste to himself; as his 
family multiplies, they form a joint body and soon get 
the lion's share of the land, the old 'clearers' becoming 
tenants. Next, the landlord family quarrel, or otherwise 
determine to divide the land ; in this state the village will 
be called in the revenue books a pattiddri village. Next, 
the proprietors get into debt, and sell their shares. 
Strangers thus get in, and a new order of things com- 
mences ; for the purchasers are very likely of a non- 
agricultural caste and must employ tenants : some perhaps 
prefer the old landowners, others take new men who offer 
better terms. The remnants of both the older family groups 
run a good chance of going to the wall altogether. Lastly, 
the body comes under early English revenue-management, 
before it had become adapted to the true requirements of 
the case ; the village once more changes hands. It is now 
sold for arrears of revenue, and passes with a clear title 
into the hands of an auction-purchaser, or falls under the 
tender mercies of a revenue-farmer who drives half the 
already heterogeneous population out, to make room for 
good Kurmi, or Saini, or Arain cultivators (according to 
the province we are thinking of), in order that he may 
clear off the balance and fulfil his object of making a profit 
for himself. And this is the village that never changes 
while dynasties tumble down, &c. ! 

Of course there is a true side to the picture ; for all 
these changes do not alter the facts of situation: the 
methods of cultivation are the same, the fields remain- 
ed superest ager ; the customs of ploughing and of resting, 
the dealings with the money-lender, the daily gossip of the 
women drawing water at the well, or sitting over their 
cotton spinning ; these and all other features of village life 
remote from the rumours of the world, will continue, no 
matter who is managing the estate. But we must not 
attempt to make a general picture of the ' Indian village ' 


\yy either taking a partial and one-sided view of things, 
or by throwing together a variety of dissimilar facts till we 
get a sort of undistinguishable mixture of them all. Still 
less must we make a hasty generalization from a few im- 
perfectly understood facts, and complacently adapt them to 
the latest theory (however admissible in itself) of ancient 
institutions or the development of ideas of property. 

There are distinct varieties of villages in the different 
countries of India, and they are none of them (that I know 
of) at all like the Russian mir, or the Sclavonian house- 
community or the Swiss allmend or common holding, in 
the concrete. They have, or had, some features l which 
can be traced back, in all probability, to those elements in 
early tribal life which are common to all races. But the 
identity of some forms of Indian village with the ' Mark ' or 
the tribal holdings in Ireland, is only 'identity' in the 
sense in which the German, Greek, Lithuanian and Latin 
tongues could be called ' identical ' with Sanskrit or Zand. 

51. Features of the Joint Village misapplied. 

One more instance must be given of the ' generalized ' 
method of disposing of the features of Indian villages. 
This will now be intelligible, because I have explained 
the revenue terms applied to the landlord village of 
Northern India and the Panjab indicating that the village 
is enjoyed jointly, or has been wholly or partially divided 
for separate enjoyment. It is an extract from a valuable 

1 And I desire not to underrate Mr. F. Seebohm's English Village Com- 

these facts. In the frontier districts munity (London, 1884, 3rd ed. ). 

of the Panjab, when the conquering Some of the village customs of 

tribes allotted the country into measuring and dividing land, the 

' ilaqas,' and then into villages, ' bulks,' the ' shots,' the ' lynches,' 

Kandis, &c. , we have many features the holdings made up of scattered 

which recall the ' mark ' or the strips (though the reason is not 

Anglo-Saxon 'vill': and the reader the same), pp. 7, 113, the 'loenland'- 

of Mr. Joshua Williams' Lectures on as compared with the Raja's or 

Rights of Common (London, 1880), chiefs grant (p. 169), these and 

especially lectures 4, 5, and 6, might many others suggest interesting 

think he was reading a North Panj- points of comparison, 
ab Settlement Report ; and so with 


standard text- book known to all Indian lawyers as Mayne's 
Hindu Law and Usage. 

Thus Mr. Mayne writes l : 

' The village system . . . presents three marked phases, which 
exactly correspond to the changes in an undivided family. 
The closest form of union is that which is known as the 
" Communal Zaminddri village." Under this system " the land 
is so held that all the village co-sharers have each their propor- 
tionate share in it as common property without any possession 
of or title to distinct portions of it ; and the measure of each 
proprietor's interest is his share as fixed by the customary law 
of inheritance. The rents paid by the cultivators are thrown 
into a common stock with all other profits from the village 
lands, and after deduction of the expenses, the balance is 
divided among the proprietors according to their shares." 
(Quoted from Boulnois and Kattigan's Punjab Customs, 1876.) 
This corresponds to the undivided family in its purest state. 
The second stage is called the pattiddri village. In it the 
holdings are all in severalty, and each sharer manages his own 
portion of land. But the extent of the share is determined by 
ancestral right, and is capable of being modified from time to 
time upon this principle.' 

The third and final stage is known as the bhdidchdrd village. 
It agrees with the pattiddri form inasmuch as each owner holds 
his share in severalty. But it differs from it inasmuch as the 
extent of the holding is strictly defined [not at all strictly, very 
often there is a strong trace of the ancestral scheme besides] by 
the amount actually held in possession.' 

This again reads convincingly ; but if we hold the writer 
to the strict sense of the vernacular terms used, it would 
not be far wrong if we were to say that the real process of 
change or development is almost exactly the reverse of that 
described. If we look to the order of village development 

1 Hindu Law and Usage (Higgin- lord and from him a joint- body of 

botham, Madras) 4th ed. 200. descendants, is found, and if allow- 

Of course the whole extract would ance is made for a very inaccurate 

lose some of its general inapplica- (but perhaps popularized) use of 

bility if by ' the village system ' we the terms pattiddri and bhdidchdrd ; 

understand, the particular form of but the author suggests no such 

village in which first a single land- restriction. 


on the basis of such evidence as actually exists, we find a 
large number in which an allotment (liable, in certain 
places, to be periodically revised) was made from the very 
first ; not necessarily on the principle of ancestral shares, but 
sometimes on this plan, sometimes on one totally distinct, 
according to tribal sentiment. We also find other villages 
over which we may suppose one chief or head of a family 
originally ruled, and his family at some very remote period 
divided it on ancestral shares. 

It is quite an unnecessary abuse of terms to represent 
the ' bhaiachara ' as a stage beyond ' pattidari.' As far as 
' bhaidchdra ' is (incorrectly) used to indicate villages 
where the shares have been lost, it is a matter of taste 
whether we call it a ' stage ' of any process whatever. To 
my mind the pattidari is just as complete an individual- 
ization of holding as that which is maintained when the 
theory which governed the extent of the separate lot is 
forgotten. But, considering that ' bhaiachara ' (and that 
correctly) also indicates a special plan or method of division 
existing alongside of the pattidari l , it is positively incorrect 
to say that it is a stage beyond pattidari in a process of 
change or development. Once more ; if ' bhaiachard ' is 
given its widest sense, it includes many villages in which, as 
far as we know, there never was any joint holding at all. In 
fact, if we put aside the special case of the Panjab frontier 
and other immigrant tribal family settlements, it would be 
quite as correct (for a general paragraph) to say, that the 
first stage is when a number of colonists settle together, 
each working at his own holding and claiming it in severalty, 
the only bond of union being that of locality and a common 
government ; that in the next stage a landlord arises not 
merely a distant ruler, but a claimant to the actual vil- 
lage acres, and that he is succeeded by a body of descendants 
who jointly enjoy the estate for a time ; that they then 
divide almost always on ancestral shares ; and that, lastly, 
the strict shares are lost or modified by circumstances. 

1 And the co-existence of these value and interest, and one not to 
diverse methods of allotment arid be obscured or left out of count, 
several enjoyment, is of exceeding 


And it would be proper to add, that in many cases 
villages are known where, though the feeling of joint right 
to an entire area was strongly recognized, some special 
method of equal allotment was always and from the first 
practised, while a portion of the area might or might not 
remain undivided, either for common grazing, or to support 
a tenantry, or from some other motive. 

52. Forms of Village in the different Provinces. 

It will probably be of use to the student if I now give 
a list of the provinces treated of in this book, and state 
briefly and in abstract, what sort of ' village ' is (chiefly) 
to be found in each. 

BENGAL. In what is called ' Bengal proper,' the village 
tenure is of comparatively little importance : it has become 
overshadowed by the tenure of great landlords. In the 
Bihar districts, however, there are clearer traces of villages 
of the landlord type and the headmen have often be- 
come petty ' Zamlndars.' In East Bengal there are peculiar 
tenures, the result of settlements in the jungle ; and there 
are special survivals of peculiar villages in the Santal 
parganas, Chutiya Nagpur, &c. Shifting cultivation in 
the hill tracts is also common. 

ASSAM. In the Sylhet and Cachar districts there are 
some peculiar tenures. In the Assam valley the villages 
are peculiar and not of the landlord type, but practically 
raiyativdri. There is much ' Jum ' or shifting cultivation 
in the hills of Central, Northern, and Southern Assam. 

NORTH-WEST PROVINCES. Mostly joint villages ; many 
formed by families of revenue-farmers, &c., who acquired 
the landlord right at the beginning of the century. Many 
were really raiyatwdri villages, but have become ' bhai- 
achara ' under our system. 

OUDH. Many villages of the old (raiyativdri] type ; in 
many, landlord claims have grown up by the grant of 
Rajas, or by the dismemberment of old estates of chiefs, &c. 

VOL. i. N 


But over all, the Taluqdar landlords have grown up : and 
they have reduced the villages to a subordinate position. 

THE PANJAB. In the Frontier districts strong landlord 
villages of immigrant conquering tribes. In the Central 
districts, landlord villages, some of immigrant tribes, some 
of associated bodies of settlers, some resulting from the 
multiplication of families of single or associated adventurers. 
In the hill districts real villages do not exist, and so in 
the Southern River districts ; the now recognized village 
forms are there the result of Settlement arrangements. 

AJMER. Joint villages, the result of our Settlement. 
Originally the old Hindu organization was complete. 

THE CENTRAL PROVINCES. The villages would be, as 
a rule, of the raiyatwdri type, but Government conferred a 
landlord right on heads of villages, so that their descendants 
form landlord communities, but with rights much limited 
by legal reservation of rights to the old cultivators. 

A considerable area is held by larger estate holders, 
who are the surviving representatives of the old Gond 
chiefs of the Dravidian-Hindu era. 

BOMBAY. Mostly raiyatwdri villages : a few survivals 
of landlord (shared) villages in Guzarat. In the coast 
(Konkan) districts a peculiar landlord tenure of ' Khots ' 
over groups of villages, will be found. 

MADRAS. Mostly raiyatwdri villages. Traces of land- 
lord villages (mirasi), now only surviving in a few special 
privileges or adaptations under the Raiyatwarf Settlement 
system. In Malabar and South Kanara no villages properly 
so called, and special tenures. So in the Wainad division 
of Malabar, and in the Nilgin hills. 

COOEG. No villages properly so called, special tenures. 
BURMA. Villages raiyatwdri in principle, but of a 
special type. 



i . Early organization of territory for Revenue purposes. 

When the earliest regular kingdoms that we have any 
evidence of, were established whether Dravidian, or Aryan, 
or of other immigrant tribes there was always some organ- 
ization of the territory, which was especially adopted with 
a view to ensuring the realization of the revenue. And 
under every form of government with which we are ac- 
quainted, a revenue from land was the chief thing. 

The village grouping of cultivators or colonizers, which 
we have just considered in detail, being the feature of the 
agricultural constitution of society, naturally we find a 
State-recognized headman in each village aided by an 
accountant ; not unnaturally too, we find the village go- 
vernment repeated in form but over a wider area, till we 
come to the governor or chief-regnant himself. First above 
the headman of a single village, we find an officer over a 
small group of villages, called a naik or nayak : this prob- 
ably descended to the Muhammadan government as the 
' tappa.' A larger group (Col. Sykes speaks of its contain- 
ing eighty-four villages J ) was the charge of a ' desmukh.' 
This also was adopted by the Muhammadans, and the 
territorial division is still well known under the familiar 
revenue name of ' pargana ' (pergunnah) 2 , or taluka. Over 

1 In his paper above quoted. cording to their size) of tribes. A 

Traces of ' Chaurassis,' or groups long account of Chaurassis will be 

of eighty-four villages are found in found in Beanies' Elliott's Glossary, 

various parts, also of ' bealisi ' and s. v. Chaurassi. 

' chaubisi ' ( forty-two and twenty- 2 The pargana is in Upper India 

one, the half and quarter charge re- almost everywhere preserved. It 

spectively). These may have been is too small for our administrative 

the extent of major and minor system and has therefore given 

chiefs' estates, or the jurisdiction way to the ' tahsil ' a subdivision 

of officers. I have seen sug- of a district. The ta'lluqa (or in 

gestions however that they may Hindi form Taluka) division is still 

represent the areas conquered or in use in Bombay and Madras, 
occupied by clans and sections (ac- 

N 2 


this area there was necessarily also an accountant called ' deV 
pandya.' The still larger, or what we should call ' district' 
charge, was not so permanent, nor has it survived so well. 
Our predecessors do not seem to have very much cared for 
a charge intermediate between the small pargana and the 
province of the Governor. But in some places, and at some 
time or other, there certainly existed such charges ; and the 
title ' Sirdesmukh ' implies a supervision of several des- 
muJchs or pargana officers. This administrative organization 
is more fully described in the next chapter ; I only state 
here what is necessary with a view to our immediate 

2. The ' Watan ' lands. 

One of the most ancient tenures, directly arising out of 
this series of official grades, is the service-tenure, called 
' Watan ' in Central India. From the fact of its localization 
in the very home of the old Dravidian (Gond, &c.) king- 
doms, I am inclined to suggest that it is a direct survival 
of that system, and is therefore of great interest. 

The Dravidian scheme of revenue seems to have in- 
cluded (if it did not originally confine itself to) the plan of 
making allotments of land as royal farms, for the payment of 
officers, and even for the more petty remuneration of village 
artisans, and for the priests. The produce of these lands 
went wholly to the king or the official as the case might 
be ; while special arrangements were often made for their 
cultivation. I am not aware that any local name for this 
tenure has survived, a fact which points to a remote 
antiquity, and perhaps to some degree of localization. The 
name ' watan,' now applied to it, is Arabic, and is trace- 
able to the Muhammadan kings of the Dakhan, before their 
overthrow by the Mughal empire of Delhi. We know that 
these kings were wisely careful of indigenous institutions, 
and they evidently preserved the ' ex-officio ' holding and 
gave it a name. It comprised not only the holding 
of lands, but also a right to the ' man pan,' i. e. various 



dignities, and precedence 1 on official or public occasions. 
In Central India, where this institution has long survived, 
the dignity of Patel (headman), or of Pandya (accountant) 
with the 'watan' attached, is such, or perhaps the security 
of the tenure is regarded as so complete, that rights in the 
form of ' watan ' are eagerly sought after, and what is more, 
the pettiest ' watan ' originally attached to some menial 
office is bought up and held by great men 2 . 

The watan, besides being heritable, is also saleable; 
moreover, as the whole family of the hereditary officer 
succeeds jointly, all hold it and may afterwards divide it. 

We may find traces of the ' watan/ or something analo- 
gous to it, elsewhere ; but I must not give more space to a 
tenure which is now extremely localized in Nimar, Central 
India and parts of Bombay 3 . 

1 Such as the Patel being entitled 
to walk first on certain ceremonial 
occasions ; being the first to throw 
the sacred cake into the fire at the 
Huli festival ; having the right to 
have his cow's horns first gilded on 
a certain festival, and so forth. 
Col. Sykes gives a most curious 
account of these as they appeared 
on the occasion of a settlement (by 
a ' panch ' or arbitrator) of a dis- 
pute regarding a Bombay ' patelgi ' 
or headmanship, in which certain 
shares had been sold, so that not 
only the land of the watan had to 
be divided between the claimants, 
but also the different ' precedences ' 
and dignities. It was settled by 
allowing one claimant to be first 
in a certain number of ceremonial 
occasions, and the other at a number 
of others; the 'panch' trying to 
make the list of ' occasions ' as de- 
sirable to each as possible, so that 
the rank might be equal. I have 
unfortunately mislaid my reference. 
The paper I allude to is in the 
Asiatic Soc. Journal, but later than 
vol. ii. 

a In the Berdr Gazetteer Mr. 
(now Sir A.) Lyall notices how in 
Western Central India the ' watan ' 
is more prized than anything else. 
Berar is a purely Dravidian country 
part of the ancient Gondwana. 
Speaking of the Sindkher chief (in 

the south-west corner of Berar), he 
tells us that the family had held 
large jagir estates in the sixteenth 
century. In Upper India he would 
on this basis have developed to a 
great ' zamindar ' or ' taluqdar ' ; but 
in the Dakhan he was content to 
be the 'de?-mukh' of a dozen par- 
ganas, the ' patel ' of fifty villages, 
and in his own town of Sindkher the 
pluralist holder of all the grants 
attached to menial services wash- 
ing, shaving, sweeping. &c. The 
family had let go its jagirs, yet had 
seized every sort of ' watan ' on 
which it could lay hands (p. 101 ). 
Sir J. Malcolm (ii. p. 16) writes : 
' The rights of the native heredi- 
tary officers of a village are much 
respected in Central India ; and 
never did a country afford such 
proofs of the imperishable nature 
of this admirable institution. After 
the Pindari war every encourage- 
ment was held out for the inhabit- 
ants to return. ... In several dis- 
tricts, particularly those near the 
Narbada, many of the villages had 
been waste for more than thirty 
years. . . . Infant Potails (Patel i 
the second and third in descent 
from the emigrator, were in many 
cases carried at the head of their 

3 In the Central Provinces we do 
not find it till we come to Nimar, 


3. General tendency of Hindu system. 

I am not aware that we can fairly attribute any other 
existing tenures to the Hindu State organization, or to the 
development of the position of its land officers, so long as 
the system remained in its pristine vigour. Indeed, in 
some parts, as in the Native States of Rajputana and in 
the Hill States of the Himalaya, the old organization sur- 
vives to this day, and though the present Rajas and subor- 
dinate chiefs, called Rana, Thakur, &c., claim to be the 
owners of the soil, this is a much later claim, which all 
the more recent Oriental governments put forward. Even 
this is perhaps more a theoretical than a practical claim ; 
except in so far as it results in the State owning (and 
drawing profit from) all waste land not held or cultivated 
by any one, and securing a certain fee on the rare occasions 
of a transfer of land. Otherwise there has been no great 
tendency to modify the tenures. The traveller in the hills 
can still see the villagers paying revenue in an actual grain- 
share, and notice in the larger villages the Raja's ' kothi,' a 
great square building which forms a local head -quarters. 
Here the grain from the neighbourhood is stored, and here 
too (when needed) the ' kardar ' or other local official holds 
a rude kind of court for disposal of public business. 

The introduction of Hindu officials when they came as 
foreigners, in some of the Chutiya Nagpur States and in 
Orissa, produced some confusion, and originated landlord 
tenures in the end ; but it would be hardly correct to refer 
to these cases as directly illustrating tenures arising out 
of revenue administrative arrangements. 

4. The Muhammadan Empire. At first changes are 


The first influence on tenures caused by the accession to 
power of the Mughals, was by their reducing or conquering 

which had been under the Mu- that the Marathas destroyed it in 
hammadan rule. May it have been Nagpur ? 


the Rajas of the small states which then were the great 
feature of the country. As we shall state presently, the 
treatment of these States was a noteworthy feature in the 
Mughal rule. They conquered the Rajas, but only took 
from them the land-revenue, leaving the local taxes, and 
customs duties, and the administration of justice, as they 
were before these latter being the very attributes of 
sovereignty which a modern government would have 
thought it its first duty to undertake and regulate. 

But in fact the Mughals closely conformed to the old 
Hindu system. Their own ideas of right over conquered 
peoples, and of taking ' Khiraj ' or tribute and capitation 
tax from them, were modified, or perhaps naturally fell 
in with the system of the land- re venue payment already 
in force 1 . Names were changed, but the administrative 
divisions of the country, and the official charges, were vir- 
tually retained. 

5. Changes begin with the decay of the Empire. 

Except then for the change that was inaugurated (and 
that without intention or foreseeing the result) by reducing 
the Rajas, the influence of the Muhammadan rule on tenures, 
may be said to have been chiefly felt in the changes that 
occurred in revenue-management, when the empire fell into 
decay. Perhaps I ought not to say this without remem- 
bering also the influence of the change made when a money- 
revenue was substituted for a grain-share ; and that was not 
in the decline of Empire, but when it was at its best. During 
the latter half of the sixteenth century, the Emperor Akbar 
made a revenue-settlement, under which (at first optionally) 
a money-payment was substituted for the grain-share. No 
doubt this was the beginning of a great change ; still it was 
one which only indirectly affected land-tenures. It pre- 

1 The 'Khiraj' (vide chapter on or other of the Mughal emperors 

the Land-Revenue System) naturally in a fit of zeal, attempted to impose 

became the land-revenue. As to the it on the Hindus, and were much 

' jaziya ' or capitation tax, we only hated in consequence, 
occasionally hear of it, when one 


pared the way for what followed, and for gradual changes 
in the relation of landlord and tenant, and many other 
modern features of land-tenure. The land-tenures were really 
directly affected when the Mughal government began to 
decline. Then it was that viceroys like those of Oudh, 
Bengal, and the Dakhan (Hyderabad) threw off their alle- 
giance and became independent kings. Then too it was that 
the extravagant claims of the ruler to be universal owner 
of land were first heard. 

The independent kingdoms did not have a very prosperous 
course. Before long, decay and corruption began to invade 
every department of the State. Under such a state of 
things honesty was hardly to be looked for in the local 
revenue collectors ; and the land-revenue fell off. No doubt 
the Central government as from time to time it fell into 
the hands of a more vigorous ruler made desperate efforts 
to reassert a proper control over the district collectors, but 
in vain. The device, to save trouble and secure at least 
a certain revenue, was to employ local agents over greater 
or less areas of country, and to contract for the revenues of 
those areas. At first such agents were carefully appointed, 
and with much form ; lists were made out of the villages in 
their charge ; and they were bound to account for all they 
collected ; except that they were allowed certain lands 
revenue-free, certain items might be deducted for special 
charges (as office expenses, alms, and police), and a certain 
share, usually one-tenth of the total revenue, as their own 
remuneration denominated nankar, that whereby they 
made (kar) their bread (nan). 

But as time went on, these agents were less and less con- 
trolled ; and they soon became mere contractors for fixed 
total sums ; and the local officers had no power whatever 
over them, and finally disappeared before them. No one 
in fact knew (or cared) what was actually wrung out of the 
villages, so long as the contract sum was paid into the 
treasury. Nor was this sum a fixed one. Whether or not 
the strict ideal of Hindu or Muhammadan law was that the 
Revenue Settlement, once made, ought to be unalterable, it 


is quite certain that in practice it never was so ; but instead 
of a careful re-survey of extended cultivation and a re- 
valuation of lands, the rough expedient was adopted of 
adding ' cesses ' (abwab) to the sum demanded from the 
agents, and so raising the total. These cesses were called by 
various names indicating the pretext under which they 
were levied l . The agents of course had in their turn, to 
make good the additional demand from the villages, and 
took the opportunity of adding a number of further cesses 
for their private benefit, on the strength of the example 
thus set them. 

It should not be supposed, however, that this system of 
farming the land-revenue was altogether, or in all cases, 
due to the decay of the Government system. There is 
one important fact to be considered. The Muhammadan 
government succeeded by conquest to a number of Hindu 
states, such as I have described, where Rajas and minor 
chiefs already were receiving the revenue (grain-share) 
and governing the country. These Rajas in some cases 
had been slain in battle ; in others had fled to the hills 
and there established new estates in the comparative 
safety of the distant and unoccupied country. In other 
cases their domains broke up, and the members of the 
ruling families seized on particular villages and became 
landlords, submitting to pay revenue to the Muhammadan 
treasury. But a number of the old chiefs, in certain 
provinces at any rate, though not able to hold their 
own, were quite strong enough to give trouble, and to 
reappear and head a rebellion on the appearance of the least 
opportunity. Hence it was matter of policy to conciliate 
them by giving titles, &c., and still more by leaving them 
in all their dignity, and with the power of administering 
justice locally, provided they would consent to pass on a 
large share of the land-revenue they collected, to the Imperial 
treasury. Such local magnates were well acquainted with 
the resources of the country, and had often a strong quasi- 
feudal hold on the people. True they would not like 

1 For details the chapter on Bengal tenures must be referred to. 


parting with so much revenue ; but provided the Imperial 
treasury only demanded a fixed sum, they could soon find 
means to make the villages pay more in the process, be it 
observed, drawing nearer to the land, and becoming more 
and more like real landlords, more in actual managing 
contact with the villages. 

The change from revenue-manager to landlord was ac- 
complished in about a century or rather more ; and it soon 
came to be as noticeable in the case of the former officials, 
and speculators who were allowed in many cases to con- 
tract for the revenue, as it was in the case of the old Rajas 
or chiefs. 

6. Extent of the Revenue-farming system. 

The system we are speaking of was rampant in Bengal, 
and was adopted in the northern districts of Madras ; it also 
extended to Oudh, which had been what I may call a strong- 
hold of the Hindu State organization ; it was very common 
in the North -West Provinces, though subsequent historical 
circumstances prevented its final development in these dis- 
tricts. It never extended to South or Central Madras 
(where the Muhammadan rule was never fairly established), 
nor to the Dakhan and Bombay, because there the Muham- 
madan kings never adopted it ; and though their rule was 
overthrown in the end, by the Delhi emperors, the latter 
were in turn overthrown by the Marathas before their influ- 
ence was much felt. As to the Marathas themselves, their 
revenue ideal never encouraged farming at all, if it could be 
helped ; and only ex necessitate the governors farmed single 
villages or small groups of land, as in the Nagpur State. 
It never extended to the Panjab, because the Mughal rule 
passed away from that province before its ultimate decline ; 
and local circumstances never would have favoured the 

7. The Zaminddr in Bengal. 

It is perhaps an important coincidence that the system 
of revenue-contracting by Rajas or others, who alike 


received the name of ' Zamfndar Y should have been speci- 
ally developed in Bengal, the very province where our own 
revenue experience was to be gained, and where our first 
lessons had to be learned. 

In Bengal the farm-system seems to have been like a 
plant which, originally introduced for some special purpose, 
has taken root, and can never afterwards be got rid of, 
overrunning everything else. By the year 1765 the 
system had so far borne fruit that the Zamindars had 
really become very like landlords. It is to be remembered 
that Lord Cornwallis, no less than the preceding adminis- 
trators of the first twenty years of British rule, had come 
to India with no other id^a of land-holding but that of 
' landlord and tenant,' as they had known it at home. Even 
if the Zamindars had been less like landlords than they 
really were, it was almost inevitable that a system should 
have shaped itself in the minds of our legislators, by 
which some one person would be recognized as landlord. 
So strong was the effect of prevalent ideas, that years 
afterwards, when the tenures of village bodies in the 
North -West Provinces, and their peculiar constitution, 
were discovered, our public officers could with difficulty 
realize this state of things ; and they kept on writing as 
if some one person in the village must be the proprietor. 
It is easy for us, who have now been made familiar with 
early tenures, primitive institutions and ideas of property, 
and the like, to form hasty judgments of Lord Cornwallis's 
measures. But such knowledge did not exist in his days ; 
and if it had, I must repeat that the Zaminddrs 1 groivth 
had in the course of events, and in fact, gone too far to 

1 The term ' Zamindar ' means or symmetry. Hence the word 
simply ' holder ' (dar) of ' land ' has got to apply to a number of 
(zamin), and in its primary and different things. No doubt a large 
generalized meaning indicates any- number of the local meanings in- 
one who holds land a member of elude some idea of a managing or 
the cultivating or landowning class landlord control over land ; but 
at large. But as applied officially that is all that can be said. I 
by the Muhammadan rulers, it was have endeavoured to simplify mat- 
essentially a vague term and prob- ters a little, by always writing the 
ably was meant to be so. Oriental capital Z when I refer to a ' Zamin- 
governments rarely define rights, dar ' in the Bengal sense, 
and care nothing for consistency 


make any plan which ignored their rights, feasible. For, 
on various grounds, the Zamfndars had been distrusted, 
and repeated efforts had been made to get rid of them, and 
such efforts invariably failed. Exactly the same thing 
happened in Oudh. The king had made many of the old 
Rajas (and some others) into revenue-agents, under the 
local name of ' Taluqdar.' When (more than sixty years 
after the Bengal Settlement) our administrators tried to 
deal with the villages direct, and ignore the Taluqdars, 
they found it could not be done 1 . The events of the 
Mutiny compelled the acknowledgment of the Taluqdars 
as owners. 

Thus the Mughal revenue-system is the direct cause of 
the (unforeseen) growth of the Zamindar landlord of 
Bengal and the Taluqdar landlord of Oudh. Indirectly, 
also, it has resulted in all those special tenures under the 
landlords, which have been recognized in both provinces, 
with a view of doing justice to all parties. And this is not 
the only result ; for all the long controversy about land- 
lords' rights and tenants' rights, which have so long 
engaged attention in Bengal and elsewhere, have really 
originated in the same causes 2 . 

1 These facts should be borne in instantaneous change ; it merely 

mind when reading such general fixed and defined a change which 

criticisms as those of M. de Lave- had been gradually brought about 

leye, where he says (p. 117) ' L'here- during more than a century. What 

dite de la terre fut etablie en faveur it did do was suddenly to render 

des Zamindars et des Taluqdars par possible all sorts of difficult ques- 

les Anglais : et cet article de loi opera tioiis about tenant right under the 

ainsi instantanement une trans- Zamindar, which could only come 

formation dans 1'ordre social que to notice when rights received a 

ne s'est accomplie en Europe que sharp legal definition, 
par une evolution lente de plusieurs 2 In the North- West Provinces 

siecles.' Without being hyper- when persons were found in the 

critical, it may be pointed out that position of Zamindars or Taluq- 

the law by which the Zamindar dars over a number of villages, 

was recognized in the legal position they were, if their claims could not 

of landlord, was made in 1793, and be got over, settled with but subject 

that by which the Taluqdars were to the temporary settlement and 

recognized was some sixty-five years tenant laws. But the policy was to 

later ( 1 858 "> , under a totally different set them aside wherever possible and 

state of things at a time when deal direct with the village bodies, 

the Government policy was dead Many Taluqdari claims were got 

against landlords, and was forced rid of (some writers maintain, with 

on them by the stern logic of facts. considerable injustice) by granting 

The law in either case effected no a cash allowance of ten per cent, on 


8. Revenue-free Grants and Assignments. 

Whether the Muhammadan government consciously 
imitated the Hindu system of appointing certain chiefs 
to manage special territories especially frontier and 
mountain- tracts I cannot determine ; but at a very early 
stage they adopted the plan of granting to court-favourites, 
to ministers of state, and to military officers, the right 
to collect the revenue of a certain area of country, and 
to take the amount collected, either to support their 
state and dignity, or in the case of military chiefs to 
equip a body of troops, to be available for the royal 

The Mughal empire recognized a definite portion of its 
dominions as that which was directly managed by the 
emperor's officers, and another area as that available for the 
assignment of the revenue spoken of. And when certain 
offices or titles were conferred, a fixed grant went with them 
as an appanage. Such grants were called 'jagir 1 .' They 
were at first always for life, and resumable with the office. 
Nearly all later governments have adopted the 'jagir,' but 
chiefly to support troops, or to reward a service of some 
kind. They are still granted by our own Government, but 
as a reward for services in the past, and not with the 
obligation of military service. In time it was thought 
below the dignity of the ruler to resume, and so the grant 
became permanent and hereditary. Possibly this stage 
was hastened by the fact that the governments both 
Hindu and Muhammadan had always been accustomed 
to grant smaller holdings of land, free of revenue, to pious 

the revenue. No doubt the policy the districts of the North- West 

of the day had much to do with Provinces (Benares Division) had 

making Settlement officers keen to been permanently settled under 

detect the survival of right in the Bengal law : and here there 

the village bodies ; but apart from are Zamindari estates, but with 

that, the villages were universally rights of the lower grades fully 

stronger and better preserved than recorded and protected by the Tenant 

those of Bengal : and consequently law. 

Zamindars and Taluqdars were ' Contracted from ' jiii-gir ' = place 

much less firmly rooted. Some of holding. 


persons, to support temples, mosques, schools, or bridges 
and tanks, and these were called ' 'mam/ or ' mua'fi,' and 
were usually hereditary and permanent (as long as the 
object was fulfilled). As the 'inam was permanent, so the 
jdgir grew to be in many cases. Possibly, also, it was the 
decline of power which caused jagirs to be irregularly 
granted, and thus to become permanent. When a dis- 
organized government desires to reward a worthy servant 
(or an unworthy), it generally has its treasury empty, and 
the easiest plan (though true policy would suggest a cash 
pension for life or lives) would be to give a man a grant by 
way of assignment, and allow him to collect what revenue 
he could off the area. 

A great number of assignments of revenue in this way 
grew into landlord-tenures, very much as the 'Zammddri' 
estates did. This was much facilitated by the fact that the 
grantee was allowed, and indeed expected, in many cases, 
to conduct the revenue-administration in his own way, 
and of course he had (or assumed) the full right to all 
unoccupied or waste land in the jdgir, and had many oppor- 
tunities of ousting refractory land-holders buying up 
their lands, taking them as security for arrears of revenue, 
and so forth. ' Jagirs ' were sometimes granted with the 
express object of the grantee settling the waste ; and then, 
naturally, he would be looked on as the landlord of the 

9. Ghdtwdl. 

I can hardly exclude from notice here, the tenures 
which arise in some parts of India, where officers or chiefs 
were granted the revenues of certain hill-districts com- 
manding the passes into the plains, on condition of 
' keeping the marches,' repressing robbers, &c. The ghat- 
wali tenures, arising from arrangements of this kind, will 
be found described under the head of Bengal tenures. 


10. G'irdsiya (Gmssiah). 

I should also mention under this head, a curious tenure 1 
of Central India, which arose on the overthrow and disper- 
sion of the Rajput local chiefs by the Muhammadan and 
by the Maratha powers. Deprived of their regular estates, 
these persons prowled about with small bands of followers 
and harassed the villagers. In time, the village bodies or 
the Government officers were glad to purchase immunity 
from attack, by agreeing to pay over to the chiefs a certain 
fraction of the revenue, called ' giras ' (lit. a mouthful), 
which was regularly entered in the revenue accounts. In 
some cases this was commuted for a small grant of land ; 
and we find ' grassia ' tenures recognized in some places, 
and still surviving. It is analogous to the ' chaharam ' 
right acquired by the Sikh adventurers in the Ambala 
district of the Panjab. 



i. View of the Subject. 

It is a noteworthy feature of most Indian provinces that 
they have been the theatre of repeated tribal immigrations, 
and of military conquests in later times; besides undergoing 
a great many minor changes in the case of petty states 
breaking up, and changing hands, and particular indivi- 
duals rising to local power. The course of history is like 
a continually shifting panorama or procession. First, the 
Aryan races overcome, or enter into relations with, Dravi- 
dians and Kols that were before them. Then Scythian and 
other immigrants gain the mastery, and great kingdoms 
professing the Buddhist faith, for a long time prevail over 

1 See Malcolm, Memoir of Central India, vol. i. p. 508 (original edition of 


a great part of the country. The Brahmanic Hindus again 
assert themselves, and the Buddhist states disappear. Then 
come the Muhammadan conquests; and when a strong 
Muhammadan rule was established a system of adminis- 
tration based on the old Hindu ideal it lasted for a century, 
and then began to fall into decline, after many local wars 
and disruptions of territorial rule. The Marathas of West 
India then rise to power, and introduce many ideas of their 
own. In the north, the Sikh confederacies overthrow the 
rule of Pathans from the frontier, and finally are united 
under a central government, once more of the old Hindu 
type, but with many of the features, and much of the 
nomenclature, of the Mughal revenue-system retained. 

Lastly, the British power supervenes ; and while its 
appearance arrests in one direction the further change 
of landed interests, and the loss of rights of all classes, 
in another direction it inaugurates a new change, by its 
own policy of recognizing rights in a certain category 
and then more or less logically deducing consequences from 
this recognition. By calling some men landlords and 
others tenants, and then enacting laws on this basis, the 
position and prospects of more than one class have been 
affected. No one can doubt that the change by which a local 
Raja became, first, an estate-agent or revenue-farmer, and 
then a landlord of many acres, was great ; but it was hardly 
greater than the changes which followed logically from 
the simple definition by legislative enactment, of the title 
of the ' Zamindar,' although the definition was undertaken 
not with any intention to produce a change, but rather 
with the idea of preserving rights in statu quo. 

2. Nature of the changes. The Muhammadan rule. 

I have already remarked on the comparatively small 
ostensible changes that resulted from the Mughal empire. 
It was wholly a case of creating fresh interests in the land 
over the heads of the pre-existing ones. The ' Zamindar ' 
in Bengal and the ' Taluqdar ' in Oudh have been so much 


discussed, that the consequences of their growth have 
come to appear greater, and the change made by the 
Muhammadan system more sweeping, than, relatively, it 
really was. 

3. The Mardthd Conquest. 

The Maratha power arose with Sivaji in the latter half 
of the seventeenth century. These rulers were thrifty : 
they did not make many State grants of land, but 
allowed existing revenue-free lands or 'watan' holdings, 
sometimes imposing a 'jodi' or quit-rent on them, which 
was heavy enough. When their power was well esta- 
blished, they recognized the advantage of dealing direct 
with the villagers through their hereditary headmen, and 
rarely employed middlemen and farmers, who, they knew, 
would always manage to intercept a good part of the 
receipts. No doubt, individual cultivators were ejected 
and changed, but the general customs of land-holding were, 
perhaps, less affected by Mardtha domination than by any 
other. The truth of this is proved by the exceptions ; for 
there were districts where the Marathd, rule was never 
more than that of a temporary plunderer, and where it 
was perpetually in contest with powerful neighbours. In 
such districts it was necessary to farm the revenues of 
certain villages, and then the ' malguzar ' (or the ' khot ' of 
the Konkan), as is always the case, grew or worked 
himself into the position of proprietor of the village, 
crushing down the rights of the original landholders. There 
are districts in Bombay where the ' khoti ' (landlord) tenure 
is to this day a regularly recognized one, being really 
nothing but a sort of managing right over certain areas, 
which has now become fixed in the families of khots or 
persons originally put in to farm the revenues. 

Throughout the Central Provinces, where village revenue- 
farmers were employed, their families grew into the pro- 
prietary position, and were, whether rightly or otherwise, 
ultimately recognized as proprietors of the villages at our 
Revenue Settlement. 

VOL. i. o 


4. The Sikh Conquest. 

The Sikh Government cared nothing for the land-tenure, 
and only for its revenues. Where the village community, 
so universal in the Panjab, was strong, it paid up the 
demand, and its customs were intrinsicallj 7 unchanged. 
Nothing is commoner in Settlement Reports than to find 
allusions to the confusion introduced by the grinding Sikh 
rule into the land-tenures. This is true, however, rather 
of the holders of the land than of tenures. No doubt, in 
many districts and throughout the village estates, one man 
was ousted and another put in, without any regard to 
title, and only for the sake of getting the revenue, in the 
most arbitrary way. Afterwards, perhaps, the old ousted 
proprietors would come back, and get on to their land 
again as privileged tenants, or would be allowed some 
small rental or malikana in recognition of their lost 
position : and thus many cases of ' sub-proprietary rights ' 
under a superimposed new proprietary layer, arose; but 
I am not aware that any new form of land-tenure owes its 
origin to the Sikh dominion anything like the growth 
of the Zamindari or Taluqdari tenure under the Mughal 

When the Sikh rule became centralised under Ranjit 
Singh, all the smaller chiefs, as a rule, were absorbed, 
and became the proprietary holders of villages merely, 
or were regarded as 'jdgirdars ' (for the Sikh system 
recognized the 'jagir'). Some few States survived under 
the suzerainty of the Maharaja. This does not apply 
to the cis-Sutlej States, where the smaller Rajas retained 
their independence under British protection. At first a 
number of these exercised almost sovereign powers, 
but they were afterwards reduced to the condition of 

In the cis-Sutlej territory (Ambala district) a curious 
survival from the early Sikh incursions is noticeable. A 
number of the marauding clans passed over the dis- 
trict, and would have succeeded in establishing either a 


general rule or a landlord right over individual villages. 
But the communities were strong ; and they often suc- 
ceeded in making a bargain, giving one-fourth of the 
share of the ruler to the marauders. Sometimes two or 
more chiefs would contend together for a village and 
obtain the ' fourth ' share between them. When the district 
became British, the growth of these overlord rights, which 
might in time have become proprietary, was arrested. But 
the right of ' Chaharam,' or the fourth, was so well esta- 
blished, that the Government recognized the families as 
'jagirdars' entitled to one-fourth the revenue. The prin- 
ciple of joint succession affected these tenures in the usual 
way. The revenue fourth became divided among a number 
of shareholders ; and Government had to make rules as 
to when the share should pass to collateral heirs and 
when lapse. And, apart from the joint succession, the 
revenue was often shared among the members of the clan 
according to their grade. Thus the original 'jagirdar' was 
the leader or chief of the ' misl ' or fighting corporation ; 
and every member of the misl (misldar) was entitled to 
some share in the profits. In jagirdari villages, a ' sirkarda ' 
collects the rents or dues of the jagirdar, and distributes 
them among the graduated ranks of the body, first to 
the chief, and next to the ' zaildars/ or subordinate chiefs, 
whose families form so many ' pattis ' receiving each the 
proper fractional part of the zail share ; below them, the 
' rank and file ' (the taba'dar) are entitled to some still 
smaller fraction of the revenue. 

5. Smaller Conquests. 

I have taken notice, it will be observed, only of the 
main conquests marked in the history of India. Smaller 
local incursions, like those of the Pindaris in Central India, 
and the Rohelas (or Rohillas) in Rohilkhand. produced only 
local effects, and they were chiefly destructive, either de- 
populating villages or changing the owners. No doubt 
as a consequence of these disasters, many villages fell into 



the hands of capitalists and revenue-managers, who became 
in time the landlords ; but such changes affected rather 
the individual than the form of tenure. 

6. Result of the changes. 

It will now, I think, be apparent, that while the customs 
of village landholding were originally simple, the effect of 
the different forms of rule has been partly to obliterate old 
tenures and create new ones, and partly to introduce 
confusion among the persons entitled to the tenure right, 
by successively displacing the older proprietary bodies 
and allowing later and more powerful successors to lord 
it over them. In either case the result has been to leave 
a series of proprietary strata, in which the upper ones 
have become, de facto^ the proprietors, but the lower ones 
each in his turn, have certain claims, which ought not 
to be ignored. When all the facts are taken into con- 
sideration, it will appear that the attempt to provide 
legally for the proper position of these various shades 
of proprietary right in our modern Indian law, is no 
easy task. 

In some cases no overlord has grown up, and we have 
only the direct occupant to deal with, and the interest 
he has in his own field or holding is defined by law without 
much difficulty. It has been practically and simply laid 
down by the Revenue Code, in Bombay ; and in British 
Burma it has also received definition, though a somewhat 
complicated and technical one. 

It is in countries (like Bengal, Oudh, and the Central 
Provinces) where we have to deal with a series of con- 
current interests, that the greatest difficulty arises. And 
it is easy to see that the different parties may have 
preserved very different degrees of right. In some cases 
the now dominant proprietor may have clearly distanced 
all rivals ; the people under him have sunk, past revival, 
into being tenants. But in others, the claims of the present 
and former proprietor may be very evenly balanced, and 


it may not be easy to say who is really best entitled ; 
or again, granted a clear predominance of one, there still 
may be so much to be said for the other, that some practical 
form of recognition is equitably a necessity, though under 
what name, may be doubtful. 

7. How the concurrent interests subsist. 

It will be observed that this concurrent existence of 
several interests in the soil, is rendered possible by the 
fact that property or interest in land is more concerned 
with the produce and with dividing it, than anything 
else. Suppose, for instance, an old group of village culti- 
vators with several rights : each takes the produce of 
his own fields, after allowing the village menials and 
officers their customary share, and after the State officer 
has taken the king's share. Suppose now a chief obtains 
a grant of the village or annexes it. He simply takes the 
Raja's share and whatever else he can impose. His family 
after him do the same. Next, the Sikh Government (let 
us say) succeeds and imposes its revenue, taking a share 
alike for the landlord family and the old cultivators. In 
process of time the Sikh governor grants an interest 
in the village to a capitalist who proposes to spend money 
in irrigating the village. He takes his share theoretically 
out of the State share, but as the produce is now largely 
increased by the water, the actual amount taken by the 
grantee is an extra. Lastly, some pious person establishes 
a shrine, and the governor grants him a ' mu'af i ' of 
some fractional share of the State Revenue. He then goes 
to the villagers and all concerned, and arranges with them 
how his share is to be collected. In the course of time 
the ' mu'afidar,' if not checked, will begin to claim and 
to cultivate the waste, to oust indigent or lazy villagers, 
and to grow into landlord of the whole. The case just 
given is a real one, observed in the neighbourhood of the 
Jihlam River in the Panjab. 


8. Grades of interest in the soil under British law. 
State-Landlord tenure. 

When British rule began, it was recognized alike by the 
authorities on the spot and by the Home Government, 
that to grant or recognize a secure title in land was the 
best way to protect rights and at the same time to secure 
the Government revenue. It was in pursuance of this policy 
that the Bengal ' Zamindars,' of whom I have so often 
spoken, were recognized as proprietors or landlords. There 
was no doubt about their being distinctly in the uppermost 
grade of interest ; and in the Regulations but little was 
said as to what was to be the name and nature of the 
rights below them, 

A certain number of these rights indeed provided for 
themselves. Some of the stronger holders had managed 
to get from the State officers certain titles (locally known 
as taluqs) which entitled them to separate themselves from 
the Zamindari and become proprietors themselves : and 
in our early Bengal Settlement proceedings, a considerable 
number of persons succeeded in getting the Collector to 
record them as 'independent' of the 'Zamindars.' But 
nothing definite was settled about any other class. 

9. Taluqddri or Double Tenure. 

In other provinces it was in many cases found to be 
more questionable who (among several possible claimants) 
should be deemed the ' actual proprietor,' to be recognized 
as such by law, and to be responsible for the land-revenue 
payment. When once the village constitution prevalent 
in the North -West Provinces was understood, the policy 
of Government set strongly in the direction of recognizing 
the village co-sharers. As already mentioned in a note, 
when some overlord appeared, if the claim was so strong 
as to amount to the proprietorship, it was recognized ; 
but in many cases the overlordship was held to be 


sufficiently provided for by a cash allowance, and the 
villagers were treated as owners, and with them the 
Settlement was made. These cases are the ' double ' or 
'taluqdari' tenures of the North -West Provinces reports. 
The term implies that both parties have retained something 
of the landlord character, and that the proprietary benefit 
is divided between them. Most commonly the one gets 
a cash percentage on the revenue, and the other the 
management and other profits of the land. This tenure 
is confined to Upper India. It must not be confused with 
the tenure of the Taluqdari landlords in Oudh l . These 
latter are sole landlord tenures, and the rights under them 
may be, some of them, ' sub -proprietary,' as the phrase 
is, or else in the form of tenant rights. The landlord is 
the person with whom the Revenue Settlement is made, 
and in cases where the others are protected, it is by a ' sub- 
settlement ' or by record of their rights. 

The Oudh Taluqdar, in fact, is a landlord very much 
like the Bengal Zamindar, only that the extent of his 
interest and the amount of his profits vary in different 
estates, according to the greater or less degree in which the 
rights of the villagers (or others) have been preserved or 
have grown up ; and it might be the case that most of 
the villages had strong rights, or it might be that the 
villages were much broken down and had no claims to 
any higher position than that of tenant, perhaps having, 
occupancy rights claimable in one plot or another. In one 
case the Taluqdar would be little more than the holder 
of a rent charge on the estate ; in the other he would 
be a nearly unfettered proprietor. As a matter of fact, 
the ' sub- settlement ' villages are not numerous, but other 
(lesser) rights are ; and the Taluqdar's position is something 
between the two extremes. 

1 Of course as regards any par- qua that village an instance of the 

ticular village which had retained taluqdari or double tenure. But I 

strong rights under a Taluqdar, so am speaking of the Taluqdar's title 

that the latter's interest was a mere in the abstract, 
rent-charge, the tenure would be 


10. Instances from the Panjdb The 'aid mdlik. 

In the Panjab again, where the overlord's right was found 
to be weak, or very ill-founded in origin, it was invariably 
set aside by the grant of a percentage on the revenue, while 
the villages ' hold the Settlement ' with Government direct, 
only paying a somewhat higher rate to provide for the 
superior's allowance. But in not a few cases in villages 
near the frontier and in the south for example there is an 
individual or a family having the superior right over the 
village, which has not extinguished the right of the body 
below. In such cases the one party is called the ' 'ala 
malik,' and the other ' adna malik,' in revenue language. 
According to circumstances, the former may have little but 
a rent-charge or a share in the produce, while the other 
body have the water rights, and the management, and the 
waste, &c. ; or else the ' 'ala malik ' body may have the 
right to the waste besides other privileges. 

Again, in some villages, where the present proprietary 
bodies are sufficiently well established to be the sole 
holders of the Settlement, certain ancient cultivators, or 
persons themselves once, in bygone times, the superiors, 
may nevertheless have such claims that a tenant-right is 
hardly enough for them. In that case they are called 
' malik maqbuza,' i. e. sub-proprietor or ' proprietor of the 
holding ' ; implying that while this class does not manage 
the estate as a whole, or share in the waste or the profits, 
still, as regards their individual fields or holdings, they are 
proprietors ; they pay nothing but the State revenue, and of 
course possess a heritable and alienable right over which the 
proprietary body (of the village) have no control whatever. 
In this instance we do not treat the case as one of double 
tenure, though obviously it is a sort of transition between 
the double tenure and the mere landlord and tenant tenure. 

n. Meaning of 'Settlement' and 'Sub-settlement.' 

The person who is the 'actual proprietor,' whether he has 
or has not under him some subordinate proprietors of one 


kind or another, is the person whom Government looks to 
as responsible for the land-revenue assessed on the estate ; 
because he is the person who enjoys the bulk of the profits 
which remain after it is paid. So that when there was 
more than one interested party, and it became a question 
for decision who is the ' actual proprietor,' the decision of 
that also disposed of the question, with whom shall the 
Settlement be made who shall ' hold the Settlement ' (as 
the revenue phrase is). 

When it was determined that a given individual or body 
was to hold the Settlement and be the actual or principal 
proprietor, it might be necessary to protect the rights of a 
grade below, by making what is called a ' sub-settlement,' 
or in the older books a ' mofussil (mufassal) settlement.' 
This proceeding not only established the inferior's rights 
by record, but fixed the amount he was to pay to the 
superior, so that there was no question of the latter treating 
him as tenant and trying to enhance the rent or eject 

12. Grades of Proprietary Right. 

We see then that, as evolved from the train of historical 
circumstances, the ' right of the proprietor ' is only in some 
cases a simple thing. There are in fact grades of proprietary 
right, a series of persons, each with some of the character- 
istics of landowner, as Western nations understand the 
term. And consequent on this superposition of proprietary 
interest, all proprietary tenures can be brought under one 
of four classes : 

I. The Government itself may be the direct owner : as of 
waste land which it does not sell out-and-out ; of a village 
which has been forfeited for crime, or has lapsed for want 
of heirs, &c., or has been sold for arrears of revenue and 
bought in l here the cultivators become tenants properly 
so called. This latter class of estates is mostly found in 
Bengal, and but rarely in Upper India, the system there 

1 Land so held is said in revenue language to be held 'khas' or ' kham,' 
or to be a ' khas estate.' 


being unfavourable to the retention of such estates as 
a rule. 

Of course all public forests, large areas of available waste, 
and other public property, may be brought under this class ; 
but I ain speaking of cultivated and appropriated lands, 
which would otherwise be in the hands of some other 

II. The Government recognizes no proprietary right 
between itself and the actual holder of the land (i.e. it 
creates or allows no proprietary right in a village or other 
larger area over the heads of the actual landholders). This 
is the simple form of raiyatwari holding under the Bombay 
and Madras systems, and in Burma, Assam, &c. 

III. Government recognizes one grade of proprietor 
between itself and the actual landholder. It settles for its 
revenue with this proprietor and secures the rights of the 

IV. Government recognizes two grades of ' proprietor ' 
between the landholders and itself. This is the taluqdari 
tenure 1 . In the Panjab and North -Western Provinces the 
Settlements get rid of this where possible by dealing direct 
with the villages, and granting to the person possessing the 
taluqdari, or superior right, a cash allowance ; but the 
tenure exists in Upper India. 

13. Remarks on these Classes. 

The full understanding of these forms of tenure cannot 
be attained till progress has been made in the study of the 
local development of the system in each province ; but I 
hope that what is here said will serve to introduce, as it 
were, the terms which will be constantly in use in the 

The first of these proprietary tenures is only occasional, 
and presents no difficulty in understanding it. 

The second we shall meet with in Madras and Bombay, 
where it is the natural tenure resulting from the old or non- 

1 There may possibly be more cases the analogy is exactly the 
than two grades : but in such (rare) same. 


landlord village, the constitution pf which had never been 
seriously interfered with by the Maratha and other con- 
querors, except in some special cases, where a landlord 
having grown up, a single or double proprietary tenure 
arose in consequence 1 . 

The third of the classes finds its most perfect exemplifica- 
tion in the Zamindar of the Bengal permanent Settlement 2 , 
and in the malguzar or village proprietor of the Central 
Provinces, in both of which cases we find a new proprietor 
the result of the revenue system, recognized over the 
original village-holding. The village communities of the 
North -West Provinces and the Panjab are brought under 
this class, perhaps more theoretically than practically. 
Each landholder who has his share secured to him by record, 
or actually divided out to him in severalty (as is so often 
the case in these communities), is really owner of the share 
and pays the revenue on it, as independently as does the 
'registered occupant' of a separately numbered lot or holding 
under the Bombay system ; but the form is not the same : 
the Government does not settle with the individual sharer 
for any revenue, but agrees with the whole body through 
its representative, for a lump sum, and regards the whole 
body jointly as proprietor. The several holders are only 
bound to pay the share which custom or personal law 
directs ; but that is a matter of internal concern to the 
village, not to the Government. As regards Government, 
and the liability for revenue, the village body is the (ideal) 
proprietor intermediate between the individual landholders 
or sharers and the State. 

1 Wherever there is only one always instinctively think of some 
class of separate field or farm one who has gained or been granted, 
holders paying revenue to Govern- or has conquered or usurped the 
ment direct, they are never called right over some earlier body of cul- 
' landlords ' of their fields. They tivators. A ' Jumma raiyat ' of 
are always spoken of as ' occupants ' Coorg would hardly be called ' land- 
or something similar probably lord' of his fields, although his 
owing to the lingering idea of Go- tenure is a favoured one, and, as 
vernment being in some sense the its name implies, is his ' birth- 
superior lord, and they the ' tenants' right.' 

in a sense ; but probably, owing to the * And in the Zamindari portions 

natural associations which cling to of Madras, 
the word ' landlord ' in India ; we 



The fourth form is found in cases where the overlord's 
right has not developed so far as to make him sole landlord 
and all others mere tenants. In that case we have to count 
both the superior and the secondary interest as terms in 
the scale, so that we get (i) the taluqdar, (2) the village 
proprietary body or the individual landholder ; or, in cases 
where there is an ' 'ala malik,' over the village body (adna 
malik), we should count up (i) the ala malik, (2) the inferior 
proprietary body (as a body], (3) the individual co-sharers. 

14. Diagram of Proprietorship. 

It will perhaps aid in fixing these facts in the memory 
if I give a diagram showing the series of proprietary interests 
at one glance. 



the only 


One Grade. 

Two Grades. 


and the soil 0. 


No one over 

One landlord over 

T. An overlord Taluq- 

is itself 

the actual 

the soil cultiva- 

dar or Raja, whose 

the direct 


tor or ' tenant ' 

right may be repre- 


who may or 


sented by a mere rent 

may not be 


charge, or may be more 

Examples : 

called 'pro- 

Bengal Zamindar. 


Waste lands 

prietor ' eo 

Oudh Taluqdar 

2. The landlord, indivi- 

(not leased, 


(in some cases). 

dual, or joint body of 


Joint body own- 

village sharers. 

Khas es- 

Example : 

ing a village (as 

3. The actual occupant 


All Raiyat- 

represented by their 

or co-sharer in the 


wari vil- 

' lambardar'). 



lages in 

An auction pur- 

Example Taluqdari te- 



chaser at a sale 

nures in N. W. P. and 


for arrears of re- 

Panjab only consisting 

and in 


in aioper cent, interest. 


All persons once 

Taluqdari in Oudh, 

Assam, &c. 

grantees, revenue 

where there is (i'. a 

farmers who have 

Taluqdar ; (2) a vil- 

become de facto 

lage birtiya or grantee 

owners and are 

landlord, subordinate, 

so recognized at 

but protected by sub- 


settlement ; the actual 

village soil occupants. 

The 'Khas' 

or tenure 

The Raiyat- 

The'zamindari' or 

The Taluqdari or double 

by Govern- 

wari tenure. 

landlord tenure. 




15. Grades other than Proprietary. Difficulty of 
classing them. 

I have hitherto dealt with cases where an incoming 
conqueror, usurping grantee, or revenue agent, has become 
the superior landlord, and where the people, who but for 
him would themselves have been in the landlord or first 
rank, have been reduced but still have retained rights which 
in their nature are considered to be ' proprietary.' 

But it is in the nature of things that the process of growth 
of what I may now call the upper layer, has been more 
or less complete, and may have reduced the rights below to 
something so indefinite, that it is matter of great doubt how 
to class or define them. 

In Bengal the rights that remained after all proprietary 
rights were made independent of the Zamindar, were not 
recognised as sub-proprietary or by any similar term. At 
the same time it is not easy to call them ' tenant-rights.' 
They have been called ' tenures ' for convenience. No 
attempt has been made to define what is a ' tenant ' right 
and what a ' tenure ' right, though the modern tenant law 
draws the distinction and allows very important privileges 
to the 'tenure' over and above what it allows to the 
' raiyat ' or tenant. 

In other provinces, after such rights have been allowed 
as are fairly called ' sub-proprietary,' or those of ' inferior 
proprietor,' all others are frankly treated as tenant-right in 
some grade or degree, and are protected under the law of 
landlord and tenant. 

Every provincial law will be found to have its own 
series of tenants as defined for the purposes of the law ; each 
series has certain greater and lesser privileges, as we go to 
the top of the scale (where the occupancy-tenant is hardly 
inferior to an owner) or to the bottom, where he is almost 
(or quite) a tenant dependent on contract with a landowner, 
or is a tenant of a tenant, which again is a mere matter 
of contract. 


We must, in short, in India, everywhere be prepared to 
find ' tenants ' so called in one place who are undistinguish- 
able from those recorded as ' inferior proprietors ' in another. 
The want of theoretic uniformity is however of no conse- 
quence, as long as practical security of enjoyment is given. 
So also we must be prepared to find ' tenants ' whose posi- 
tion owes absolutely nothing to any contract with the land- 
lord, or owes it to such contract, solely in its present shape. 
Hence the law has taken large powers to limit the landlord's 
power over the tenancy. 

It should also be borne in mind that, in nearly every case 
(in some cases more markedly so than others), the landlord 
owes his position to the grant or to the recognition and adop- 
tion of the British Government. The Government in fact 
virtually limited its own demands and interests, and thus 
created valuable estates in land with a permanence and 
security that never really existed before. Being in that 
position, the Government had every right to say, ' we shall 
not give all the benefit to one party ; we shall distribute 
the interest in the land so that some of its value shall go 
to the landlord class and some to the soil-holders, whom, for 
want of a better name, we call tenants.' 

The reader who is tempted to regard as very great the 
privileges allowed under such law as the Central Provinces 
Tenant Act (for example) should always, as a corrective, 
recall to mind the fact just stated. 


Let us now devote a brief attention to the classes of right 
which have been provided for as tenant rights or interests. 
And let me once more repeat that the continual changes 
that the succession of conquests and governments, and the 
successive grants, usurpations, and other acquisitions of 
interest they have given rise to, have left different classes of 
rights in different stages of decay or preservation. The 


first result is that, as already remarked, not a few of these 
' tenancies ' are totally independent of any contract or grant 
of the present overlord or landlord. 

i. Cases of Natural Tenant Right. 

And the commonest instances of a ' natural ' tenant right 
of this kind are the following : (i) We may be certain that 
once the 'resident tenants,' whose home has been in the 
village for generations, were once individual soil-owners, 
perhaps first-clearers,' with the right which we have so 
often alluded to as asserted by Manu. Perhaps even they 
are members of a family that once flourished as village 
landlords, but have fallen into poverty and decay, and been 
obliged to handle the plough and accept the tenant position. 
But (2) there may be resident tenants who were always 
inferiors in the village, humble dependants (e.g.) of the 
original founders, who were privileged as helping in the 
first work of colonization ; or they may have, for many years, 
been made to pay exactly as if they were owners, by the 
governor of the province. In the Panjab, under Sikh 
government, it was almost universally the case that the 
tenants were made to bear just the same burdens as the 
landlords; the governor in fact drew no distinction. 

2. Tenants in Bengal. 

There can be no doubt that when the Zamindars were 
legally recognized, and such persons as could show a right 
to hold independently of the Zamindar were acknowledged, 
all the other cultivators became raiyats or tenants ; and in- 
evitably, in the minds of English officers, and in the law- 
courts, this suggested a right to enhance the payments of 
the tenants and to eject them if they would not pay. 

No doubt the intention was to protect tenants, but the 
framers of the law did not know how to do it: it was 
thought that to prohibit the levy of extra cesses was an 
effective mode of protection ; and it was supposed that, by 
making it legally binding on the landlords to grant pattas 


or written leases, there would be an end to uncertainty and 
extortion. No doubt a few influential persons, who could 
secure a fixed rent and permanent tenure, possessed such 
documents : but the common tenantry refused to take leases ; 
in some cases, doubtless, because they feared that, by such 
acceptance, they might be held to admit an inferior position ; 
but chiefly because they would bind themselves absolutely 
to pay without a chance of throwing up the land in a bad 
year, or to pay an amount which they knew the landlord 
would enter in his own terms and these they could neither 
read nor understand. No other protection was provided: 
the law was silent as to any rule or limit of enhancement ; 
it defined a small class of persons whose tenure was already 
known by Persian names implying fixity of possession 
and a permanent rate of rent, and that was all. 

But in Bengal, as elsewhere, if we regard the entire scale 
of rights below the landlord, we shall find, at one end of 
the series, the small class just alluded to, and at the 
other end of the series, the real tenants, people who were 
cultivating the landlord's private lands, or who had been 
located by him on his own waste. It might be rea- 
sonably said that no special protection was needed for 
these : land was then abundant, and owners were only too 
anxious to get and to keep tenants, at any rate those who 
paid full rents l . Had any serious oppression been attempted, 
tenants of this class would have resisted and gone off to 
the next estate, where the owner would probably have 
welcomed them. But between these first and last members 
of the scale, there is the large class of permanent resident 
cultivators to whom it is no light matter to break up home, 
leave the acres they have held for generations and move on 
to another estate. They are distinguished in our earlier 
revenue books by the (Persian) term ' khud-kasht.' That 
all were equal in point of right is not to be supposed, though 
very many of them must have been, or have represented, 
the original soil-owners that is a matter of detail : one thing 

1 It is said that, at the date of the two-thirds of Bengal was uncul- 
Permanent Settlement, one-half to tivated. 


was quite clear, they were in possession absolutely indepen- 
dently of any contract with the Zaminddr. The law could 
not, however, lay down that they never were to have their 
rates enhanced, though phrases verging on that may be 
quoted from official opinions and minutes ; for it is to be 
remembered that, even if they had remained as proprietors, 
the State could, and would, have periodically revised their 
payments, and therefore it could not be supposed that the 
Zamindar was denied a similar power when the cultivator's 
payments were handed over to him. But some rule of 
enhancement was clearly needed ; and unfortunately no 
definite idea was entertained as to what should be done. 
Meanwhile, the necessities of punctual revenue-collection 
and the inevitable result of the introduction of the Euro- 
pean idea of ' landlord ' and l tenant,' both worked directly 
against the old ' khud-kasht ' tenant, though of course not 

3. Effect of Revenue-realization Laivs. 

The Government had always said that if the Zammdars 
did not or could not pay up the revenue, it must look 
to the estate to do so, and that the estate would be 
sold at once, if any arrears accumulated. And, as will 
appear fully in the sequel regarding Bengal history, 
circumstances brought about a vast number of sales 
for arrears of revenue during the first ten years *. 
These sales, of course, necessitated the purchaser being 
given the estate free of ' incumbrances ' created by the 
defaulter ; if it were not so, all sorts of fraud would have 
been perpetrated ; a careless man would have raised all the 
cash he could on his estate, and then defaulted and let it 
go. But not only definite incumbrances such as mortgages 

1 The revenue at first is admitted ter's Annals of Rural Bengal. As 

by good judges to have been heavy, time went on, matters rapidly im- 

with reference to the circumstances, proved, and sales became less and 

and especially -with reference to a less frequent. The revenue is now, 

recent famine (1772), of which such as I have stated before, extra- 

a graphic accoiint is given in Hun- ordinarily light. 

VOL. I. P 


had to be avoided, but also existing contracts about the 
rental ; and little by little the position of the old resident 
cultivators was forgotten, and the right of the purchaser to 
enhance even their rents came to be acknowledged. 

4. And of Laws to facilitate Rent-collection. 

At the same time also the Zamindars complained of diffi- 
culties in realizing their rents ; and Regulations (notably 
those of 1799 and 1812), which have become locally famous, 
were framed to help the landlord, fairly as it was thought, 
and without injuring the tenant ; but as they threw on the 
tenant the burden of proving that the rent demanded by 
the landlord was not the proper rent, the effect was, as has 
been said, to commence proceedings with a ' knock-down ' 
blow to the tenant. 

5. The Zamindars begin to farm their Estates. 

Then, too, arose further complications the Zamindars 
took to creating renting-interests over fractional parts of 
their estates : in other words, as soon as they became well 
enough off, they divested themselves of the trouble of 
directly managing and collecting their own rents, by accept- 
ing a proportion of the rent-total, and living on that, 
leaving to a farmer or lessee the duty of collecting the 
whole and running up the rent-roll to what he could for 
his own benefit. The rental of an estate was, say, Rs. 50,000 
at a certain date, that being the total the Zamindar had 
himself fixed. The Zamindar then created a tenure called 
a ' patni,' and in effect said to the holder of the patni, ' Pay 
me Rs. 30,000 and realise the balance (and whatever else you 
can raise) for yourself.' This directly stimulated the fur- 
ther raising of rents 1 , till at last the position of the tenants 

1 And when the contractor or proving lands) that he again could 

patnidar had so run up the rental afford to retire, he would sub-let his 

(partly, be it observed, by bona fide farm to another man (and he in 

and large extensions of cultivation turn to another in succession). 
of the abounding waste, or by im- 


grew so bad that, after long discussions, the drafting of 
a tenant law was seriously taken in hand in 1859. ^ ne sub- 
ject has thenceforth continuously been kept in view, till 
the Act of 1885 has furnished a (perhaps not final but) 
greatly improved modus vivendi. 

Thus, under the one head we have so far been attending 
to, arose a fine crop of troubles and legislative anxieties 
out of that benevolent blunder, the Permanent Settlement. 
This sketch of the history of the tenant troubles in Bengal 
was worth giving at such length, because it illustrates 
throughout the ways in which indirectly, and in some 
degree insensibly, complications of tenure arise out of mea- 
sures that in themselves seem necessary or unobjectionable. 

Let us now turn to the provinces later acquired. 

6. Other Provinces Definition of Tenant right. 

In all provinces, according to the varying circumstances 
of each, the law has found it necessary to classify tenants 
according to the facts of their origin and position. The 
mistake made in Bengal was not repeated. Each class, as 
defined, is respectively secured in certain privileges, which 
are naturally greater according as the class is higher (more 
nearly approaching to a proprietary interest), or lower 
(approaching more nearly to a contract-tenancy). The first 
and most important thing is to define the circumstances 
which make a tenant of this class or that. Usually, when 
the proof of the facts would involve going back to a remote 
date, but it is found that certain conditions have been 
maintained for a long time say twenty years the law (as 
now in Bengal) will aid the tenant by raising a presump- 
tion that what has subsisted for twenty years is the 
ancient status, and will accordingly throw the burden of 
proving the contrary, on the landlord. It is then possible 
to define the circumstances which give rise to each class of 
occupancy right. In the Panjdb all the privileged classes 
of tenants are thus defined with reference to certain easily 
understood facts of tenure. 

P 2 


7. Where definition is more difficult. 

But in Bengal and the North -West Provinces, the history 
of the resident tenants was so obscure, that it was impos- 
sible to say definitely what were the facts of the tenure, so 
as to place any tenant in this class or in that. The Gor- 
dian knot was therefore cut rather than untied, and pro- 
vision was made that any tenant who has continuously 
occupied land in the village for twelve years, is an occu- 
pancy-tenant 1 . This well-known ' twelve years' rule ' was 
invented in 1859, and certainly under such conditions as 
those prevailing in Bengal, it was a fair rule ; for while it 
secured all persons justly entitled, it could only occasionally 
have benefitted persons not entitled ; and if it did so, it was 
hardly to be regretted, when we reflect what a long period 
of suffering tenants had gone through before the question of 
their rights was understood. But the rule was not invented 
in Bengal ; it was proposed for the North- West Provinces, 
and was originally a compromise between the opponents of 
tenant right and those who wished to give an occupancy 
right to all resident village cultivators, and who further 
would have called all tenants settled for three years 
' resident.' 

8. Nature of the Privilege. 

The ' occupancy-right ' has, of course, various forms and 
conditions in the different laws ; but, speaking generally, 
all laws give a protection against enhancement without order 
of a Court on specific grounds ; and protection against eject- 
ment without a decree. Either provision would be useless 
without the other. It would be of no use to say a tenant 
cannot be ejected, if at the same time his rent could be so 
raised as to make his position unprofiable ; it would be of 

1 At first certain restrictions were tenant from one holding to another, 
placed on the rule: the tenant without incurring the odium of eject- 
must have held the same fields for ing him altogether. Some of the 
twelve years, and this is still the laws have abandoned this distinc- 
law in the North-West Provinces. tion, and made it suffice to hold any 
The fear is that the landlord might land in the village, 
defeat the law, by shifting the 


no use to limit enhancement, if the landlord could give the 
tenant notice to quit. And all tenant laws further regulate 
such matters as distraint for arrears of rent ; date for pay- 
ing rents ; the division of payments into seasonable instal- 
ments ; and the grant of receipts for rent paid. Provision 
is also made for the division of the crop, in provinces where 
rents are still paid largely in kind (e. g. the Panjd,b). 

A very important matter also is the subject of improve- 
ments what they are, and who is to make them, and what 
compensation, if any, is to be paid on ejectment of a tenant 
who has ' an improvement ' to his credit. 

9. Controversy as to the general Twelve-years' Rule. 

Notwithstanding the necessity for some protection to 
tenants in the shape of occupancy rights, the question, 
especially the general application of a twelve years' rule, 
evoked a sharp controversy. It raged in Bengal, and 
was renewed when it was found that the ordinary twelve 
years' rule was not sufficient ; it raged in the Panjab in con- 
sequence of the adoption of North- West Province forms in 
recording rights, the record of tenants of twelve years' 
standing as ' maurusi ' or hereditary tenants \ and the 
attempts later made, to modify this record. 

The tenant rights controversy in the Central Provinces 
was on somewhat different matters. 

& 10. The Case stated on both sides. 


There have been able officials ranged on either side ; 
since on either, a plausible argument may be advanced, 
both as to the facts and as to the policy. Those who 
favoured the landlords' view would urge that it was unfair 
to the Zamindars and other proprietors now saddled with the 
responsibility, strict and unbending, for the revenue that 

1 The occupancy-tenant is com- ' muzar'a mustaqil ' (fixed or per- 
monly spoken of as ' maurusi kasht- manent cultivator), 
kar ' : but in legal parlance he is 


was to be paid in good years and bad alike, to tie their 
hands, and to refuse them the full benefit of their lands 
by creating an artificial right in their tenantry ; such 
a rule would be to virtually deprive the landlord of the 
best share of his proprietary rights. If it was wise of 
Government to recognize the proprietary right at all, it 
must be wise also to recognize the full legal and logical 
consequences of that right. True it might be, that in old 
days tenants were never turned out, but that was the result 
of circumstances, not of right ; and if the circumstances 
have changed, why not let the practice of dealing with 
tenants alter too? The proprietors are the people we 
designed to secure, in order to make them the fathers of 
their people, to whom we looked for the improvement of 
the country at large, and for the consequent increase of the 
general wealth. Why should we doubt that they will act 
fairly in their new position? Let any tenant who can 
prove definitely a certain claim, have it by all means ; but 
do not give rights en masse, in the hope of including all 
real cases, while also granting them to many not at all 
equitably entitled. 

On the other side the advocate of the tenant would reply : 
The new landlords confessedly owe their position to the gift 
of Government ; why should they get all ? why should not 
the benefits conferred be equally divided between the 
raiyats on the soil and the ' proprietors ' ? The raiyats are 
the real bread-winners and revenue-makers, more quiet and 
peaceable, less liable to political emotions, and more inter- 
ested in the stability of things as they are. Many of the 
tenants we know to have been reduced to that condition 
from an originally superior status. And if it is not so, the 
landlord ought to be able to show definitely that he origin- 
ated the tenancy, and had not let it run unquestioned for a 
long period twelve years which in the case of ' adverse 
possession,' under the Law of Limitation, was the term which 
would give a title. And even if the tenant had no such 
original position, as far as his history can be traced, still 
the custom of the country is all in favour of a fixed holding. 


In old days, if a powerful man ousted a cultivator, it was by 
his mere power, not by any inherent right, or that the public 
opinion supported him in so doing. But as a matter of 
fact no cultivator ever was ousted ; he was too valuable. 
In the rare cases in which he was ejected, it was either 
because he failed to pay or to cultivate properly (which is 
still allowed as a ground for ejection), or else it was to 
make room for some favoured individual, which of course 
was an act of pure oppression : why should not the law 
still protect the tenant from such evictions ? 

The question is in truth not one which can be theoreti- 
cally determined, because the idea of landlord and tenant, 
as we conceive the terms, and the consequences which flow 
from it, have no natural counterpart in Indian custom. 

We have a double difficulty to deal with : the vast 
number of ' tenants,' who have a valid claim to be con- 
sidered, because their position (however difficult to define 
and formally prove), does not depend on contract, and 
also the case of tenants whose origin is not doubtful, 
but whose position has been seriously affected by the new 
order of things a competition for land instead of a com- 
petition to get tenants and keep them. All we can do is to 
make the best practical rules for securing a fair protection 
to all parties. 

The principle of the twelve years' rule was adopted, 
reasonably enough as regards the Zamindari estates that 
were settled under the old Bengal system, and probably 
equally so as regards the North -Western Provinces, where 
village communities of landlord families had grown up. 

In the Central Provinces Act X 1 was put in force, under 
certain special conditions, but is now replaced by a special 
law. In the Panjab and in Oudh it was never adopted. 
There, it was sufficient to provide for the special case of 
those tenants who had a ' natural ' or customary right to be 
considered permanent. 

1 This Act is now generally re- the twelve years' rule has been re- 
pealed, and only remains in force tained in the Acts which super- 
in a few districts of Bengal ; but seded it in the different provinces. 


ii. Tenancies in Raiyatwdri Provinces. 

In the provinces where the Government deals directly 
with the occupants of the land, tenant right has given no 
trouble. But of course tenancies exist. A man may con- 
tract to cultivate land as a tenant-at-will or he may have 
something of a hereditary claim to till the land, as much 
under a raiyatwari system as any other. But the question 
of subordinate rights never becomes as difficult of solution 
in such countries, as it does in those where the recognized 
proprietor is a middleman between the cultivator and the 


i. Introductory. 

When the tenures of land in India first began to be 
studied, it was not so much because of their great historic 
and social interest, but because of the more prosaic but 
practical reason, that without understanding the way in 
which the people held land (and felt it ought to be held), it 
was impossible to determine who should be responsible for 
the payment of the Government land-revenue, and con- 
sequently should, as ' proprietor,' benefit by the remainder 
and a large and valuable remainder it would become 
when once the Government demand was properly limited. 
It is hardly surprising therefore, that at the commencement 
of the enquiries, a large part of the early reports and 
minutes was occupied with two questions, which were con- 
nected together, or rather, one of which arose out of the 
other. The first question was, whether Government was or 
had become, in the course of historical changes, the actual 
owner or universal landlord of all land, or whether there 
was, in India, any real private properly in the land. The 
second was whether Government took its land-revenue as 


a rent for the use and occupation of land, or as a sort of 
tax which represented a share in the produce converted 
into money. 

There can be no doubt that in the latter part of the 
eighteenth century, when British administration began, the 
different native rulers who preceded us, had asserted 
rights as the universal landowners. That being the case, 
our Government succeeded, legally, to the same claim and 

If it were determined that Government might be justly 
regarded as owner of the land, then of course what it took 
from the actual cultivator might be regarded as rent; and 
Government was further entitled to take the whole of the 
remaining produce of land, after allowing the cultivator 
the costs of cultivation and the profits of his capital. If 
not, it was rather a question of words whether the Govern- 
ment revenue was a rent or a tax. 

It will, then, be proper for us to consider (i) What, 
according to the ancient authorities, Hindu and Muham- 
madan, were the established ideas regarding the right to 
land as vested in the State and the private individual 
respectively. (2) What the actual custom and practice 
were. (3) What practical solution was adopted by the 
British Government. (4) And what is the consequent true 
view of the modern land-revenue ? 

2. 'Proprietary Right.' 

The first thing that will strike the student is the use of 
the term ' proprietary right ' in these pages and in Indian 
Revenue books generally. It does not occur in text-books 
on English law or jurisprudence. I presume that the use 
of such a phrase is due to the feeling that we rarely 
acknowledge anything like a complete unfettered right 
vested in any one person. The interest in the soil has 
come to be virtually shared between two or even more 
grades, the cause of which we just now discussed. It is 
true that, in many cases, only one person is called ' land- 


lord ' or ' actual proprietor,' but his right is limited l ; the 
rest of the right, so to speak, is in the hands of the other 
grades, even though they are called ' tenants,' or by some 
vague title such as ' tenure-holders.' In many cases, as 
we have seen, this division of right is accentuated by 
the use of terms like ' sub-proprietor ' or ' proprietor of his 
holding.' ' The proprietary right ' seems then a natural 
expression for the interest held by a landlord, when that 
interest is not the entire ' bundle of rights ' (which in the 
aggregate make up an absolute or complete estate) but 
only some of them, the remainder being enjoyed by other 

3. Existence of Property in Land in India. 

The older writers often raised a discussion on this sub- 
ject ; some maintaining that the law and custom of the 
various countries of India always acknowledged a real 
ownership in land vested in private persons ; others main- 
taining the contrary. 

But such a discussion, except for the information that is 
elicited in the course of it, cannot be a fruitful one, because 
there is no natural or universal standard of what ' property 
in land ' is. 

In English law, for example, there is no such thing as an 
absolute ownership of the soil vested in any private person. 
Dr. Field remarks 2 , ' As a matter of fact no one ever did 
or can own land in any country, i.e. in the sense of absolute 
ownership such ownership as a man may have in move- 
able property, as e.g. in a cow or a sheep which may be 
stolen, killed and eaten, or in a table or a chair which may 
be broken up and burned at the pleasure of its owner.' 
And the author refers to Williams (On the Law of Real 

1 For instance, in the case of the in the great Rent Case of 1865, 
Bengal Zamindar, whose origin we ' The Regulations teem with pro- 
have sketched (and shall discuss visions quite incompatible with 
more in detail in the chapters on any notion of the Zamindar being 
Bengal), he is called 'landlord'; absolute proprietor.' 
but, as one of the High Court a Field, p. 509. 
Judges remarked in his judgment 


Property, pp. i, 20), 'who after remarking on the erroneous 
notions too generally entertained .... on the subject of 
property in land, goes on to say " The thing that the 
student has to do is to get rid of the idea of absolute 
ownership. Such an idea is quite unknown to the English 
law : no man is, in law, absolute owner of lands ; he can 
only hold an estate in them." ' 

Estate properly means the interest owned by an indi- 
vidual (as ' estate for life,' ' estate in fee simple,' &c.). But 
in popular phrase ' estate' is applied to the land itself, and 
it is so used in the Regulations (XLVIII of 1793, XIX of 
1795, &c.). 

Sir George Campbell (Essay on 'Indian Land Tenures, 
Cobden Club Papers), well'sums up the subject as follows : 

' The long-disputed question, whether private property in 
land existed in India before the British rule, is one which can 
never be satisfactorily settled, because it is, like many disputed 
matters, principally a question of the meaning to be applied to 
words. Those who deny the existence of property mean pro- 
perty in one sense ; those who affirm its existence mean pro- 
perty in another sense. We are too apt to forget that property 
in land as a transferable marketable commodity, absolutely 
owned and passing from hand to hand like any chattel, is not 
an ancient institution, but a modern development, reached only 
in a few very advanced countries. In the greater part of the 
world the right of cultivating particular portions of the earth 
is rather a privilege than a property, a privilege first of the 
whole people, then of a particular tribe or a particular village 
community, and finally of particular individuals of the com- 

' In this last stage land is partitioned off to these individuals 
as a matter of mutual convenience, but not as unconditional 
property ; it long remains subject to certain conditions and to 
reversionary interests of the community, which prevent its un- 
controlled alienation, and attach to it certain common rights 
and common burdens.' 


4. Absence of any standard idea of 'Property.' 

If the old Indian writers, and any universal opinion of 
the people, had formulated private rights in land in any 
particular way, it would be easy to determine the fact and 
definitely state the principle, by examining the prevailing 
practice, the declarations of the books, or the forms of 
ancient title-deeds. But an examination of those sources of 
information does not enable us to gather any generally 
accepted theory of property in land. Even the Muham- 
madan law-books, which are of a comparatively late date, 
and written after the Roman law was known, do not define 
they speak of ' ownership ' (MilMyat, and the owner 
Mdlik), but do not say what constitutes ownership. 

In Elphinstone's History of India it is remarked 1 , { Pro- 
perty in land seems to consist in the exclusive use and 
absolute disposal of the powers of the soil in perpetuity ; 
together with the right to alter or destroy the soil when 
such an operation is possible. These privileges combined 
form an abstract idea of property which does not represent 
any substance distinct from these elements. Where they 
are found united there is property, and nowhere else.' 

It must be remarked that this is really the Roman ideal 
the usus, usufruct-us, abusus et vindicatio rather than an 
Eastern formula ; and it may certainly be denied that any 
such abstract ideas ever prevailed in India. But at the 
same time we must be prepared to find particular claims to 
land expressed with great force. In the chapter on Malabar 
(Madras Tenures in vol. iii), I shall notice an ancient deed 
which seems to sell or grant every kind of right from the 
centre of the earth to the sky above : but it is doubtful how 
far this is oriental verbiage, or what is really meant by it, 
for in that country we find the produce shared, as else- 

1 Cowell's ed. p. 79-80. Baillie in the land which is owing to the 

(Muhammadan Law of tlie, Land-Tax, productive power of the soil, with- 

p. 20) says that the holder of land out which the cultivator would not 

who pays to the ruler the ' khiraj be able to meet his liability (to the 

muwazifa ' or tribute in the form of tribute). See also Phillips, p. 47. 
a share in the produce, has a right 


5. Two principal ideas of landed right. 

All we can assert as undeniable is, that both Hindu and 
Muhammadan authorities have always recognized a strong 
right in land of some kind. 

(1) From very early times a right was asserted in favour 
of the person who first cleared the land had undertaken 
the great work of removing the dense jungle and contending 
against tropical nature, till the land was won for the 

Probably also the fact that land so long as it is covered 
with jungle, in some cases, or without water in other cases, 
is valueless, caused the productive power of the soil or 
the produce of soil to be regarded as the real subject of 
ownership. This is illustrated by the minute attention 
everywhere paid to sharing the produce; and also by the 
great importance, in special districts, of rights in water. 
No one cared how much land a man chose to plough up ; 
but let him try, contrary to established custom, to seize 
a share in the water of a tank, or a mountain torrent, to 
water the field, and he would be instantly resisted. I 
have already noticed how the possibility of the land bear- 
ing a series of concurrent interests, depends on the fact 
that the several parties only determine how the produce 
is to be divided, and leave every other question in abeyance. 

I make these remarks in connection with the ' right of 
the first clearer,' because it seems that this right 
ultimately depends on the fact that this man has made the 
land productive (and he has therefore a special interest): 
he has converted land from being worthless to being a 
' property,' in the sense that produce can now be enjoyed. 

(2) I have already alluded to the strong claims put for- 
ward by the high-caste families and descendants of 
conquering or colonizing chiefs. But here again we 
are left to put our own interpretation on the terms as 
suggesting any theory of ownership. 

The nearest approach to a soil-claim that I know, is 
quoted by Colonel Tod in regard of the conquering Rajput 


owners of Mewar (Udaipur State in Rajputana) 1 . The 
author indeed connects this with the principle of the ' first 
clearer ' when he says : ' He has nature and Manu in sup- 
port of his claim, and can quote the text . . . that cultivated 
land is the property of him who cut away the wood, or who 
cleared and tilled it. ... In accordance with this principle * 
(the italics are mine) ' is the ancient adage, not of Mewar 
only, but of all Rajputana : 

"Bhogra dhani Kajhu 

Bhiimra dhani majhhu " 

' (The share (revenue share of the grain) is the wealth of the 
Kaja, the soil (bhum) is my wealth.) ' 

But the author also tells us that in this case the soil-right 
is that of the conqueror and the superior family, and is 
spoken of as Being his 'bapota' or patrimonial inherit- 
ance. I therefore doubt whether the Rajputs (as landlords) 
laid so much stress upon the first clearing, as upon another 
equally widespread idea, that land conquered and inherited 
by the next generation, is a very firm possession. 

6. Prevalence of certain terms for inherited Land. 

And I have once more to call prominent attention to 
the fact that all over India we find the same thing. The 
conqueror's descendants, whose title is might ' the portion 
won by my sword and rny bow ' is spoken of by some 
term implying ' inheritance ' or ' birthright.' For some 
reason, which I cannot explain, the convenient Arabic terms 
for ' heir,' or ' inheritance,' have been frequently adopted even 
by Hindu castes. Thus we have already had occasion to 
notice that in Madras the vague rights of the superior 
(landlord) classes or villages are called ' mirasi ' rights, and 
the claimants ' mirasdar.' a The Muhammadan Government 
in Western India called the claims of the old Maratha con- 

1 Tod, vol. i. p. 424. warisi, the right of an heir ; wirasat, 

2 Miras is obviously, even to a the inheritance or ' estate,' &c. In 
reader ignorant of Arabic, derived Madras there were native terms, as 
from the root ' wirs,' inheritance, ' Kani-atchi,' for birthright, &c. 
from which come also waris (heir) ; 


quering families ' mirasi ' claims. In the Simla states the 
leading families call these holdings ' wirasat ' (not mUkfyat, 
the Muhammadan law term, for ownership). And in the 
Kangra district the landholders call their land their ' warisi.' 
The old chiefs of Malabar (the military caste) in the re- 
mote past seized on estates of limited size, of which they 
are now recognized as owners, and they call these estates 
their ' Janmam,' a term perhaps (but doubtfully) implying 
birthright. So the Coorg or superior caste landowners call 
their land 'jamma' lands, which is the same word in a 
localized form. 

I notice that the strong village communities of the Panj- 
ab proper have not familiarized themselves with the word 
' wirasat ' for landed estates, but most commonly speak of 
their ' mal ' and ' milkiyat ' their idea is, however, j ust the 

In Ajmer we shall find ' allodial ' holdings called ' bhii- 
miyd ' tenures. Here once more we have a term referring 
to the soil ; but all its features are just like those of the 
Rajput ' patrimony.' Princes are said to be glad to acquire 
' bhiimiya ' rights, because they are so safe. The prince 
may be deposed from his throne, and his State rights may 
disappear, and he be driven into exile and into private life. 
If afterwards he reappears in his former kingdom, he will 
not attempt so hopeless a task as to reclaim his State rights, 
but as holder of a bhumiya plot of ground, public sentiment 
will probably restore it to him at once J . 

The Rajput landholder, says Colonel Tod, ' compares his 
right to the " akhai dhuba " the ineradicable dhub grass 
which no vicissitudes can destroy.' 

7. These two principles alone form the basis of property. 

I have examined a great number of authorities, and with 
some confidence it may be stated that the outcome of all is 
that, whatever may have been the ideas entertained regard- 
ing the nature of property and it is most probable that 

1 Tod, vol. i. p. 426. 


no speculation was ever entered into on the subject 
two grounds or bases of claim to hold land and enjoy its 
produce, and generally to alienate it, certainly to inherit it, 
were universal: (i) The right held by any class con- 
sequent on first clearing and reclaiming the waste ; (2) the 
right claimed by the military and superior caste or ruling 
races, in virtue of birthright or inheritance, which really 
meant that the land had been obtained by conquest, grant, 
or some form of superior might, and that the descendants 
who inherited it regarded it as their ' birthright.' 

8. Further details. 

There are other matters, however, to be considered in 
connection with ' property.' I have already had occasion 
to say something about the stages of property in the history 
of human development, and here we must notice, in more 
detail, the idea that property resides in the family rather 
than the individual. 

9. The joint succession. Primogeniture. 

Though Manu speaks of an ' owner ' in the abstract, he 
elsewhere fully recognizes the principle of family right and 
joint succession. Indeed the Muhammadan law, though it 
determines different fractions for different classes of heirs, 
is in principle a law of joint-succession. And in India it 
will be found that many agricultural tribes, who are Mu- 
hammadan by faith, follow a customary succession which is 
just the same as in the (nominally or really) Hindu tribes. 
While we are on the subject of succession, it may be men- 
tioned that the law and custom of primogeniture only apply 
to certain things. In a Raja's domain the right to the 
' gaddi,' or royal seat, and the appanages of authority, are 
indivisible, and go to the eldest only. But in ordinary 
families all property is divided, and only in some instances 
do we trace an idea of primogeniture in the local custom of 
'jethansi,' by which the eldest son gets a slightly larger 


share, or some extra articles at a division of the family 
goods. Indeed, in families which are not noble, but yet 
are above the common rank, it is often difficult to say 
whether primogeniture obtains. It is a matter of family 
custom. We shall see cases where families have divided 
and then have agreed to divide no further. 

It is obvious that this joint-succession is the cause of 
many peculiarities in land custom. Nor is it without 
effect in the case of individual or raiyatwdri holdings ; 
for when a raiyat dies, his sons jointly succeed; only that 
if the estate or holding is small, it commonly happens 
that some of the sons of their own choice, go away and 
seek service or other means of livelihood. In many cases 
Nature herself puts a limit to subdivision 1 . 

The question, whether primogeniture and indivisibility is 
or is not accepted, often has an important effect on the land- 
tenants. For instance, suppose an indivisible Kajaship. 
If the family is dispersed and the Raja slain in battle, the 
overlordship may simply disappear, and the village tenures 
below remain unaffected. But where the chief's estate is 
divided, then the several members seize on one or two or 
more villages each, and are sure to become landlords, 
obliterating the rights below, and founding landlord com- 
munities. We have seen how many joint villages owe their 
origin to this circumstance, and a brief allusion will here 

10. Female succession. 

In agricultural castes, daughters and other females do 
not usually get a share in land, or sometimes only till 
marriage. This is a sure mark that property is in the 
1 family ' stage : it means that the daughter on marriage 
goes into another family, and that if she got a share, she 

1 And if a village body or a family into debt and sell their land. Many 

persists in subdividing beyond of them then become mere tenants 

rational limits, the body is sure to under the purchaser, who by virtue 

fall into hopeless poverty and decay, of his sale-title reaggregates the 

when in all probability they get various shares he has bought up. 

VOL. I. Q 


would take it away with her. Widows are allowed a 
life-tenure, but cannot devise the land or alienate it with- 
out ' necessity.' What constitutes ' necessity ' is a question 
for each case as it arises l . In the Panjab so strong is the 
feeling that land belongs to the family, that a childless male 
proprietor is, in many tribes, not allowed to alienate any 
ancestral land without necessity, nor can he will it away ; 
his power to disappoint natural heirs by adopting a son, is, 
in some tribes, limited by custom 2 . 

ii. Authorities on the subject of property in land. 

We may now proceed to consider the statements of 
ancient writers on the subject of property in land. 

It will be interesting to quote both from Hindu and 
Muhammadan authors. But it will be found that, in spite of 
the weight of law-books and commentaries, we shall end, in 
India, with finding that, as already stated, the King or the 
State claimed to be the only owner or landlord of all land. 
At least that certainly had come to pass by the end of 
the eighteenth century. 

12. Hindu authorities. 

If we date the Institutes of Manu about the fifth century 
B.C. 3 , and also assume that what is said about landed 
interests is hardly a new idea of the author, enunciated 
for the first time, but more or less represents accepted 
ideas on the subject, it will be obvious that a right (of 
whatever nature) in the land is a very ancient idea. It 
is also represented as attaching to the individual, or rather 
to the family, of which the individual was only the head, 
the manager, or the representative. 

' And there are of course many adoption is very different from the 

judicial rulings or precedents as to law of the Hindu text-books, 

what is ' necessity ' and what is 3 Burnell would have placed it 

not. later. See Hunter's India, pp. 113, 

2 In the Panjab the custom of 114. 


In Manu we read 1 : ' The sages declare a field to belong 
to him who first cleared away the timber [Kulluka Bhatta's 
gloss on this is, ' who cleared and tilled it '], and a deer to 
him who first wounded it.' This right, as before remarked, 
is still constantly asserted. In the Panjab, tenants who 
never heard of Manu or any other Hindu law-book, and 
who admit that they have no direct landlord claim, will 
urge a right to occupy on the ground of ' buta shigafi ' 
having broken up the land and cleared away the jungle. 

It is, however, curious to note that Manu's standpoint is 
that of a very settled state of things. He knows abso- 
lutely nothing 2 about a landlord or a joint body claiming 
the whole of a village lands in a ring-fence, as their 
'inheritance.' His standpoint is a settled government 
under a Raja, who takes his revenue share from every 
village. Villages are known groups of land. Each has 
its headman. This officer is allowed a certain remunera- 
tion ; several villages are united into a superior charge, and 
a number of these again into a larger charge or district 3 . 

In Chap. VIII (v. 237) we read of the case of one man 
sowing seed in a field ' which is owned by another.' In 
the same (v. 239) we hear of the 'owner of a field' en- 
closing it with a thorny hedge, over which a ' camel could 
not look/ and 'through which a dog or a boar may 
not thrust his nose.' Again (v. 245-63) we have detailed 
rules for settling and laying out the boundaries of estates 
or holdings ; and in v. 264 a punishment is provided for 
taking wrongful possession of a field or a garden. There is 
also reference to the formalities of sale (among them the 
sale by pouring out water, which is noticeable among the 
ancient deeds collected in Logan's Manual of Malabdr). 

1 Chap. ix.,v. 44 etsq., and confer who from first to last discharge 

De Laveleye, p. 53. their duties' (Manu, viii. 35^ Re- 

a I have elsewhere alluded to this garding the last officials and their 

subject, and to M. de Laveleye's remuneration, see vii. 115-119. I 

suggestions thereon. have spoken in Chapter III of the 

3 The king is no conquering lord, king's revenue share (vii. 129, 130). 

driving the ' aborigines ' into the The king is to draw moderate taxes 

hills or making serfs of them. ' He from his realm, ' as the calf and 

is created as the protector of all the bee take their food, little by 

those classes and orders of men little.' 

Q a 


The reader can draw his own conclusions as to the state 
of feeling on the subject of interests in land involved in 
these references. 

The king is, no doubt, invited to fine the cultivator 
who neglects to sow the field ; but that is because the 

O * 

revenue is endangered ; it need not detract from the 
notion of right in the soil. Colonel Wilks also argues 
that this text refers to the cultivator or tenant, not to the 
owner 1 . 

It seems to me extremely probable that in Manu's time 
the conquering race of Aryans had been long established. 
The ruling tribes were in possession as Rajas, chiefs, and 
' lords of ten villages, twenty villages, and a hundred vil- 
lages,' and content with their overlordship and the revenue ; 
while the actual settlers were either the ' rank and file ' 
of the immigrant race, their lower caste (Vaisyas), or mixed 
castes (Sudras). Possibly all original cultivators who were 
not peaceably let alone, had been driven out, or reduced to 
' serfdom.' In the Southern kingdoms we have ample 
evidence of lands cultivated for the nobles by slaves, and it 
is quite possible that this may have been generally the case. 
But the field-owners contemplated by Manu are clearly 
either Aryans or others established in possession as freemen. 

13. Muhamniadan Authorities. 

The original theory of the Muslim was that conquered 
races were to be offered the option between adopting ' the 
creed,' or death, or slavery. But, as has been j ustly remarked, 
this theory very soon gave way to the more practicable 
one, that conquered races, if they submitted and agreed to 
pay tribute (khiraj), were to be let alone. ' Respect tribu- 
taries,' said the prophet ; ' for they are entitled to the 

1 See Wilks' History of Mysore when he wrote, 'It is a nice question 

(reprint), p. 79, 80. Sterling, in his whether under the old Hindu 

account of Orissa (Asiatic Researches, system the actual occupants of the 

vol. xv) , must have been thinking of soil were considered to possess any 

the state of things produced by sue- subordinate title of ownership' (i. e. 

cessive conquests in that country to the Kajas, chiefs, &c.). 


same rights and subject to the same laws as the 
Moslems 1 .' 

The author of the Hiddyd (a text-book of Muhammadan 
law) lays it down that if a prince conquers a country, he is 
at liberty either to divide the land among his soldiers, or 
to leave it in the possession of the inhabitants, on their 
agreeing to pay capitation (jaziya) and land-taxes ; in the 
latter case, the right of property remains with the in- 

Colonel Briggs 2 quotes Abul Hassan Ahmad bin Muham- 
mad a Hanifi doctor of the fourth century of the Hijra 
who states the same doctrine ; and he quotes from the 
Sirdj-ul-Wahdj to the effect that, if the ruler allows the 
land to remain with the conquered people, on their paying 
tribute, ' the land is the property of the inhabitants ; and, 
since it is their property, it is lawful for them to sell it or 
dispose of it as they choose/ Other authorities to the same 
effect might be quoted 3 . The author of the Hiddyd also 
has adopted the same rule as the law of Manu asserts, viz. 
that land is the property of him who first clears it ; and 
Colonel Vans Kennedy says that ' all Muhammadan 
jurists agree that the person who first appropriates and 
cultivates waste land becomes ipso facto the lord of the 
soil 4 .' 

There is no doubt, however, that the prince remained 
entitled to the unoccupied land ; and the only difference 
among the doctors seems to be as to whether an intending 
cultivator need ask leave to begin his work. The prince 

1 See Col. Vans Kennedy on the conquest does not interfere with 
Muhammadan Law, Journal Asiatic private rights, is quite a modern 
Society, vol. ii. p. 105. The infidels development (see Broom, Consiitu- 
who submitted and paid tribute tional Law (ed. i866\ p. 21, and 
were called ' Zimmi,' in distinction Campbell v. Hale, State Trials, vol. xx, 
to the ' harbi," those who were in 322. Col. Briggs has collected, at 
arms. p. 128, other authorities, showing 

2 Briggs, p. 109. that by Muhammadan law, khiraj- 
s It is noteworthy that while this paying land is the property of the 

reasonable doctrine is that of the person who pays the tax, even 

earlier authorities, all the later though he is conquered. See also 

kings and nawabs of the country Patton's Asiatic Monarchies, p. 339. 
claimed larger rights, as we shall 4 Paper quoted above, p. 108, and 

presently see. The doctrine of Briggs, p. 112. 
European international law, that 


can, however, certainly make a gift (or grant) of the 
waste 1 . 

14. Later Claims of the Ruling Power. 

Though the early doctrine both Hindu and Muham- 
rnadan is beyond doubt, it is quite certain that, as time 
went on, the local princes and governments with whom we 
came in contact, or who had immediately preceded us, had 
come to claim, not only the waste, but a right of ownership 
in all land whatever, and treated the 'raiyats' as their 
tenants, except in the case of such claims as those of holders 
of watan, or other special cases 2 . In the first place, it 
should be remembered that most of the later governments 
were either powers which had recently thrown off al- 
legiance to the Mughal government, or other chiefs, like the 
Peshwa of the Marathds and the Maharaja of the Sikhs, 
who were recent conquerors, and therefore had extravagant 
claims. Moreover, history shows that the native rulers 
in later times all adopted more or less oppressive revenue 
assessments, and this tended to make land a burden, so that 
private rights were hardly asserted. 

Then, too, the right of the State to waste or unoccupied 
land was never doubted, and this would be an element in 
forwarding a general claim to the soil. 

It is noteworthy that in 1668 (A.D.) the Emperor Aurang- 
zeb's orders show that a private right was then recognized. 
And as late as 1715, when the Company applied for a grant 
of the ' taluqdari' of thirty- eight villages near their Bengal 
factory, they were told they would have to purchase the 
rights of the owners 3 . And, when Mr. Shore put rather a 
leading question to Ghulam Hassan, the historian (author 
of the Sayyar f niuta,dkhir'i'n), assuming the right of the 
ruler, and asking whether, therefore, he ought to pay for 

1 Idem. The Institutes of Timur- acknowledged : and special grants 
lane, as quoted by Col. Briggs, are to under title-deeds which it would be 
the same effect. beneath the dignity of a ruler to 

2 As for instance grants to pious ignore or to revoke, 
persons and religious uses, in which 3 Briggs, pp. 128, 134. 
a permanent right was everywhere 


land he required to take possession of, the author replied, 
' The emperor is proprietor of the revenue ; he is not pro- 
prietor of the soil.' 

I cannot acquit our own authorities of some exaggeration 
at the time of the Permanent Settlement. For instance, 
Mr. James Grant, who had resided at the court of the 
Nizam, in 1785, wrote: 'It would be a most dangerous 
innovation (diametrically opposite to the letter and spirit 
of all Oriental legislation, ancient and modern, devised by 
conquerors) to admit, either in theory or in practice, the 
doctrine of private individual landed property by inherit- 
ance, free or feudal tenures extending beyond one life.' 
The ancient authorities do not support Mr. Grant at all. 

And so in the preamble- to Madras Kegulation XXXI of 
1802 (since repealed), it is said that the property in land 
belonged to the Government by ' ancient usage.' 

Certainly, however, the governments of that time did, 
and the native governments of the present day do, make a 
claim to be -landlords of all land but they should rather 
base such a claim on conquest and the disorders of later 
times, than on any of these ancient authorities. Putting 
aside the obvious mistake about 'ancient usage,' it is 
hardly possible that Mr. James Grant, and Colonel Munro, 
and many others, could have been mistaken about the fact 
that in their time all governments did claim to be land- 
owners ; and, as I said, it is quite certain that the Nizam 
and other rulers make the same claim now. 

Regulation XXV, of 1802, of the Madras Code which did 
not commit itself to any theory correctly stated that the 
Government had the ' implied right and the actual exercise 
of the proprietary possession of all land whatever.' And 
with reference to Regulation XXXI of 1802 (above quoted), 
it should be noted that the legislature only professed to 
assert this general right as a locus standi, from which it 
proceeded to confer a title on the Zamindars. 

Colonel Briggs, who is very averse to admitting the 
growth of the rulers' claims, is unable to make out anything 
in the Nizam's dominions, except that watan lands were 


saleable (i.e. were private property) 1 , and that the weight 
of taxation on ordinary lands prevented ' the existence of 
real property' in them. 

Mr. Elphinstone (Governor of Bombay) thought that all 
land belonged to the Maratha government, when it did not 
belong to ' mirasdars,' or to government grantees (and the 
mirasdars were either scions of Maratha families or suc- 
cessors to their rights) ; and he noted that ' Baji Rao (the 
Peshwa), when he had occasion for Mirdsi land, paid the 
price for it.' 

Colonel Malleson says: 'It has been stated, and, I 
believe, truly, that throughout Holkar's dominions no 
private individual possesses permanent heritable or alien- 
able rights in land ; every cultivator is a tenant at will of 
the Maharaja.' 

This is, perhaps, rather strongly worded ; but certainly 
a similar claim is made by the semi- dependent Rajas of 
Chamba, Kashmir, and those of the Simla Hill States. 
They respect occupancy-rights of old cultivators, and cer- 
tainly admit the heritable nature of the right ; but they do 
not allow of alienation, without permission and payment of 
a fee, or ' nazarana,' to the chief 3 . 

1 Briggs, p. 75. And the rulers The following were the Kana of 

very often respected special rights Baghat's rights : 

of this kind. (i) His revenue or grain-share. 

a Native States of India, p. 197 note. (2) Offerings on a marriage in the 

8 By the courtesy of Mr. W. Cold- chiefs family. 

stream, C. S. Superintendent of the (3) An 'offering' of 100-200 

Hill States, I have seen a number butas or cobs of Indian corn, when 

of interesting papers bearing on the the harvest is ready, 

rights of the State of Baghat near (4) "When the landholder has a 

Simla, from the records of the Super- marriage in his family he gives the 

intendent's office. In a letter (No. chief a goat, and the chief returns a 

219, 28 Feb. 1866) I find it stated sword (talwar) as a present to the 

that ' the chiefs are the only pro- bridegroom. 

prietors,' the occupiers of land are (5) Certain days of 'begar' or 

only cultivators but mostly heredi- unpaid labour on State buildings or 

tary. The chiefs have certain lands roads, but the chief gives flour for 

of their own which they call ' land,' the day's bread, 

and cultivate by their own farm (6) A ' nazar ' or fee from every 

servants. raiyat who asks for waste to cultivate. 


15. Causes of the later State Claims. 

While, however, it is conceded that the real ' ancient f 
usage, or theory, of both the Hindus and Muhammadans, 
expressly discouraged the idea that the ruler was absolute 
owner, or owner at all, of all land, and certainly acknow- 
ledged private rights, there were in the books the germs 
of principles which easily recrudesced into new claims ; 
and there was always the feeling of the conqueror, the suc- 
cessful adventurer, and the ruler who has asserted and 
gained independence, that his will is the only law, that 
he has conquered, and everything is his, to dispose of as 
he will. 

The doctrine, for instance, that the Muslim conqueror 
only took tribute as an act of favour, and might have 
destroyed the conquered, or have dealt with the land in 
any way he pleased, and actually did so deal with all 
waste land, was very apt to make conquerors forget the 
dicta which should have moderated their pretensions. The 
very idea that the tribute, or khiraj was a mild substitute for 
slavery or death however it may have been softened by 
the comments of jurists was only too likely to recur to the 
mind of a conqueror disposed, for his own profit, to exag- 
gerate his claims. 

The author of the Hiddyd (Book ix. chap. 7), speaking of 
the limit of the khiraj being one half the produce, says : 
' But the taking of one half is no more than strict justice, 
and is not tyrannical, because, as it is lawful to take the 
whole of the persons and property of infidels, and to dis- 
tribute them among the faithful, it follows that taking one 
half their income is lawful d fortiori! The later ruler, in 
the chronic emptiness of his treasury, was apt to act on this 
reflection, and arbitrarily increase the demand on the land 
to such an extent that no valuable property in it remained. 

Indeed it is not easy to dispose of the reasoning. If the 
law is that a king acquires everything by conquest, surely 
he may claim the land, allowing only a liberal user even a 
hereditary user of it to the people ; and the amount of his 


demand for revenue is a matter for his will and con- 
science only. 

That such a claim was made by all the later sovereigns, 
is perhaps natural : and under the circumstances, we cannot 
wonder that the British authorities on succeeding to their 
place, were not perfectly consistent in their declarations, 
nor very well satisfied as to what they ought to do. In 
strict right, they succeeded to the position of the out- 
going ruler ; and if they found that this position logical 
indeed, but morally ill-advised had been taken up contrary 
to the earlier legal authorities, it was certainly a nice ques- 
tion, what was the proper claim for the British Govern- 
ment to assert. 

1 6. Claims how far adopted by the British Government. 

I think, on the whole, what was meant by the various 
declarations in the Regulations and elsewhere, was this ; 
that the Government claimed to succeed to the de facto 
position of the preceding ruler, only so far as to use the 
position (not to its full logical extent but) as a locus standi, 
for re-distributing, conferring, and recognizing rights on 
a new basis. 

And the outcome of the action taken by the Government 
was this that it at once recognized certain rights in private 
individuals, and only retained such rights for itself as were 

The power to make this distribution was no doubt based 
on the de facto power of the Government to dispose of all 

I may exhibit the main features of the disposition of 
landed rights made by Government under five heads. 

(1) Government used its own eminent claim as a starting 

point from which to recognize or confer definite titles 
in the land, in favour of persons or communities that 
it deemed entitled. 

(2) It retained the unquestionable right of the State to 

all waste lands ; exhibiting however the greatest 


tenderness to all possible rights either of property 
or of user, that might exist in such lands when pro- 
posed to be sold or granted away. This right it 
exercised for the public benefit, either leasing or 
selling land to cultivators or to capitalists for special 
treatment ; thus encouraging the introduction of tea, 
coffee, cinchona, and other valuable staples. Or it 
used the right as the basis for constituting State 
Forests for the public benefit, or for establishing 
Government buildings, farms, grazing-grounds, and 
the like. 

(3) It retained useful subsidiary rights such as minerals. 

or the right to water in lakes and streams. In some 
cases it has granted these away, but all later laws 
reserve such rights. 

(4) It retained the right of escheat ; and of course to 

dispose of estates forfeited for crime, rebellion, &c. 

(5) It reserved the right necessary for the security of 

its income (a right which was never theoretically 
doubtful from the earliest times), of regarding all 
land as in a manner hypothecated as security for 
the land-revenue. This hypothecation necessarily 
implies or includes a right of sale in case the revenue 
is in arrears. 

17. Remarks on these Heads. Head I. 

Each of these five heads requires a few words of com- 

The first is exemplified by the declaration made in confer- 
ring the proprietary title on the Zamindars in Bengal, and 
on other classes declared entitled, in the several Regula- 
tions and Acts of the Legislature, which we shall study as we 
come to each of the provincial systems in turn. 

The Government conferred no absolute or unlimited 
estate on any one person or community : the landlord or 
the proprietor was the person or community that had the 
first or superior position and the major part of the rights. 


But others might share it ; either expressly as when they were 
called ' sub-proprietors ' ; or practically, where, as ' tenure- 
holders ' or ' occupancy-tenants ' their interests were secured 
by special provisions. 

1 8. Right in the Waste. Head II. 

There never has been any doubt that in theory, the 
' waste ' that is, land not occupied by any owner or 
allotted to anyone was at the disposal of the ruler to do 
what he liked with ; in short, was the property of the 

In ancient times, such as those referred to in Manu, the 
king certainly granted such lands to the cultivators. No 
doubt it is contemplated that the villagers should have a 
right to use the grazing, and to practise wood-cutting in the 
waste adjoining their cultivated holdings ; and probably no 
king would think of making grants of land in such a way 
as to put any village to real inconvenience in this respect. 

In the old kingdoms of Oudh we find the king levying 
his tolls on wood-cutting, at least on outsiders, and grant- 
ing clearing-leases. 

The Muhammadan law authorities (already quoted) de- 
clared the waste to belong to the ruler, and the right has 
always been exercised by making grants *. 

Land is not 'waste,' if it has been occupied, even 
though left uncultivated. When, for example, a noble 
family acquired the ' zamindari ' right in a village in Oudh, 
or a family founded a village in the Panjab, they understood 
themselves as entitled to a certain area within certain 
boundaries (however defined), whether the area was under 
the plough or not. When the British Government con- 

1 In early days, when waste was subject of the right to waste is dis- 

very abundant, the rulers were cussed in the ' Kanara Forest Case ' 

far too anxious to see it cultivated, (Indian Law Reports : Bombay series, 

and so increase their revenue, to vol. iii, p. 583), especially in Mr. 

make any objection to its being Justice West's elaborate judgment, 

broken up, or to make any regula- The subject is also gone into in 

tions about asking leave to take it. detail in my Manual of Forest Juris- 

But that proves nothing. The whole prudence. 


ferred estates on Zamindars or any other sort of proprietor, 
it of course contemplated that an area of waste for expan- 
sion should (wherever nature permitted it) form part of the 
estate ; because by such means the estate would grow in 
value, and the revenue burden become lighter and lighter. 
For this reason, the waste that adjoined the villages in the 
North -West Provinces, was fairly adjudged to belong to the 
estate 1 , while excess waste not occupied, was always treated 
as belonging to Government. In Regulation III of 1828 
the right of the State is expressly declared 2 . In after 
times, in Bengal, attempts were made to recover or 
' resume ' excess waste ; but as there were no surveys show- 
ing boundaries of estates, the resumption was often a diffi- 
cult task, and was only successful in certain localities. 
In the Panjab and the Central Provinces, where there were 
large areas of waste, a certain proportion was included in 
the villages at the survey which preceded Settlement, and 
the rest marked off for Government. 

In Malabar, unfortunately, the claims of the 'janmam' 
holders had so long been allowed, that it is to be feared all 
the forest land has, by prescription, become the estate- 
holder's, and is not now likely to be recovered 3 . 

In raiyatwdri villages, while certain provision is made 
for user, i.e. grazing rights and wood-cutting, the waste 
' numbers ' are all recorded as belonging to Government, 
and may be available for cultivation, to applicants, or may 
be retained, according to circumstances. 

Whenever Government desires to allot waste, or convert 
it to any use, there is an Act (XXIII of 1863) which enables 
a notice to be given, and claims to any right to be settled. 
This Act clearly proceeds on the principle of the State 
right ; so do the Forest Acts, which contemplate ' waste ' 

1 Except, of course, large tracts of sive tracts of country being 

forests and waste in the Hills or in still waste belong to the State.' 

the Jhansi district, which were left s In North Kanara, where similar 

as Government waste. claims on the part of the estate 

a The preamble speaks of Com- holders were attempted, the Go vern- 

missioners appointed ' to maintain ment successfully resisted them in 

and enforce the public rights in the case already alluded to in a 

different districts in which exten- previous note. 


lands being taken up for forest purposes subject to a ' forest 
Settlement,' i. e. a determination and separation of the rights 
of private persons and those of the State 1 . 

19. Waste Land Rules. 

In all provinces ' Rules for the lease of waste lands ' are 
in force. The policy has from time to time varied, and the 
rules have been amended. At one time the idea was to sell 
the land out and out, with no revenue claims; then the 
policy changed ; and seeing the great and rapid growth in 
the value of land, it began to be felt that to sacrifice the 
State rights so readily was a mistake. The policy now is 
rather to lease the land for a term of years, and only to allow 
the conversion of the title to one of ownership (and that 
subject to paying land-revenue) when the lessee has shown 
that he is in earnest and has really made proper use of the 

The rules sometimes draw a distinction between the lease 
of small areas for the purposes of ordinary cultivation, and 
the grant of larger areas to capitalists, for the purposes of 
commercial cultivation of tea, coffee, chinchona, or other 
staples on the large scale. 

The chapter on Bengal Tenures will afford some illustra- 
tions of this subject. 

20. Subsidiary Rights. Head III. 

The reservation of a right to mines, minerals, and earth- 
oil, hardly concerns us in this manual ; nor does the right to 
water in lakes and rivers. It is enough to mention that the 
latter is the basis of the Canal Acts, regulating the construc- 
tion of canals and the distribution of the water. 

1 The ownership of the unoccupied rights of user can amount to owner- 
waste may reside in the State, ship. Unless a claim be decided 
though certain servitudes or rights of on its merits, to be one of pro- 
user may be claimable by other prietary occupation and title, not to 
persons, which latter have to be a mere user, it does not destroy, 
provided for or compensated, before however much it may hamper, the 
the State can exercise any complete State ownership. The distinction 
control. But no amount of mere is important. 


21. Right to lapsed Lands, &c,. Head IV. 

It has happened that estates were forfeited for rebellion 
after 1857, or may be forfeited for crime under the Criminal 
Law. Such lands then became State property. The law of 
escheat of lands that had no heirs, was known to the old 
Hindus under the name of 'gayari.' The Muhammadan 
law term ' nazul ' is also applied to escheated lands. But it 
is very commonly applied to lands or houses that were 
owned by the former government, and therefore became the 
direct property of the succeeding government. 

22. Hypothecation of the Land. Head V. 

This is really almost the only vestige of any ' universal ' 
State claim to land. It is obviously necessary to the security 
of the land-revenue. The revenue is, in fact, an absolute 
first charge on all land, and must be satisfied before any 
other claim ; and the land can be sold, by the Bengal law, at 
once, and by other laws in the last resort, to recover arrears. 

When Government sells land, and no one buys it, the land 
remains (as in Bengal) on the hands of Government, as what 
is called in revenue language, a Government estate, or a 
'khas mahal.' Should a proprietor decline the terms of 
Settlement, he may be excluded from the management for 
a time ; but the estate, even though farmed or managed 
direct by the Collector (' held khas ' as the phrase is) for 
a time, does not become the property of Government. 

23. Government the ' universal Landlord.' 

After Government has so distinctly conferred proprietary 
rights in land, any later use of the term ' universal land- 
lord,' as applied to Government, can only be in the nature 
of a metaphor, or with reference to the ultimate claim of 
Government alluded to in the last paragraph, or that which 
arises in case of a failure of heirs. 


The only function of a landlord that a Government ex- 
ercises, is the general care for the progress of the estates ; 
making advances to enable the cultivators to sink wells or 
effect other improvements ; advancing money for general 
agricultural purposes (under special Acts) ; suspending or 
remitting the demand for revenue owing to famine or 
calamity of season. 

24. Land-Revenue ivhether a Tax or Rent. 

The land-revenue cannot then be considered as a rent, 
not even in raiyatwdri lands, where the law (as in Bombay) 
happens to call the holder of land an ' occupant, 5 not a 
proprietor. The reason for adopting this term will be 
noticed in the chapter on Bombay tenures. Here it is 
enough to say that the special definition does not entitle 
Government to a true rent. Nowhere and under no revenue 
system, does government claim to take the ' unearned in- 
crement,' or the whole of what remains after the wages of 
labour, or cost of cultivation and profits of capital, have 
been accounted for. 

If we cannot be content to speak of 'land-revenue,' 
and must further define, I should be inclined to regard the 
charge as more in the nature of a tax on agricultural 




THIS chapter, in which I have endeavoured to present 
an outline of the various LAND-REVENUE SYSTEMS OP 
BRITISH INDIA, and to show how they originated and how 
they are connected together, will contain much that is 
already familiar to every Indian official ; and readers in India 
may therefore regard as unnecessary many of the state- 
ments and explanations offered. It seemed, however, de- 
sirable to deal with the subject from the point of view of 
the general reader, and accordingly to avoid assuming that 
he possesses a fund of knowledge to start with. It is neces- 
sary, then, to begin from the beginning, and not plunge in 
medias res, or at once make use of terms of revenue-law, 
familiar enough to officials, but certain, until duly ex- 
plained, to appear mysterious, if not repulsive, to others. 

I may, however, assume, to start with, a single item of 
knowledge, which, indeed, has been to some extent ex- 
plained in the last chapter. The rulers, Rajas, and emperors 
of the successive governments in all parts of India, have at 
all times raised the greater part of their State income, by 
levying a charge on the land. Whether this was an Aryan 
institution, or was learned from the Dravidians, or was a 
natural method, adopted independently, I leave the reader 
to form the opinion which best satisfies him. But, as a 
matter of fact, it came to be an universally-acknowledged 
principle, that the king, Raja, or chief of a territory, had 

VOL. I. R 


LAND. In time, as might be expected, this revenue came 
to be no longer taken in kind, but in the form of a 
money payment, made at certain seasons when the harvests 
had been realized. 

I have to remark on this generally, that the early 
authorities are naturally concerned only with discussing 
whether the king's share shall be a sixth, a fourth, &c. 
Nothing else was needed. It was early recognized that the 
share might be increased in time of war or special necessity, 
but that is all. As a matter of fact, while the early Rajas 
are supposed to have taken no more than the sixth, it is 
quite certain that all or many of the later ones demanded 
the half. So tenaciously is old custom clung to in India, 
that in many native states the ruler still takes his revenue 
in kind. On the whole, he is not a loser ; for there has been 
a steady rise in the value of grain ; and this, perhaps, com- 
pensates him to some extent for the want of any regular 
system of periodical revision of assessment. 

But when the time came for the Government (it hap- 
pened under the Mughal, rule) to change the grain-revenue 
into cash, the first idea was to roughly estimate the standard 
share as yielding so many 'maunds' of grain 1 for each crop 
on each kind of soil, and then to value it at an average 
price. The early methods of fixing the grain- value were, 
however, so rough, that practically it was but an arbitrary 
process, effected with moderation, and with reference to the 
ability of the cultivators to pay easily. The change from 
a grain-revenue to a cash-payment had one important con- 
sequence : from that time forward it has been recognized as 
a general rule certainly it was so by the Muhammadan 
governments that the money-payment needed to be revised 
from time to time, i.e. after the lapse of a suitable term of 

1 The 'Maund' (man) is the usual sir into sixteen chhatank (chittack) 

weight for reckoning solids. It of five tolas each. The toM is the 

varies in different places ; but the weight of the current silver rupee ; 

general standard is 80 Ibs. = i maund. approximately two and a half of 

The maund is divided into forty them go to the ounce avoirdupois. 
seers (sir) of two Ibs. each, and the 


years. In the days of the later Mughal rule, the revenue 
was revised, not by any regular process of re-valuation, 
but by the expedient of adding on ' cesses ' to the existing 
totals. These cesses were called by various names, which 
indicated either the name of the governor who imposed 
them, or the pretence under which they were levied. In 
the Bengal chapters we shall hear a great deal about 
' cesses.' 

But under our own Government such a device was not 
likely to be followed at least, not as a means of enhancing 
the land-revenue l . It became necessary, then, to devise 
some plan of fairly assessing the land-revenue. 

The process by which the Government officials determine 
the amount of land-revenue payable, is called a SETTLE- 
MENT (of land-revenue) ; and the person or the body whom 
Government recognizes as entitled to be proprietor, subject 
to the revenue-payment, is said to be ' settled with,' or to 
' hold the Settlement.' Who the ' proprietors ' were and are, 
we have discussed in general terms in the last chapter. 

Our first experiment was made in the province which 
first came under our rule viz. the 'Bengal, Bihar, and 
Orissa,' of A. D. 1765. Here the plan was to find out 
what lump-sums the several local revenue contractors had 
been paying, or were, in the accounts, shown as bound to 
pay. Such corrections and adjustments as were possible 
were then made in the totals, and the persons responsible 
were told to pay that amount ; and by law it was declared 
that they should never have it enhanced. 

So in Bengal, the process of fixing the revenue-payment 
having been gone through once for all, under pledge that 
no future increase would be demanded, it was called the 
'PEKMANENT SETTLEMENT.' We shall, of course, have 
much more to say about this hereafter. 

1 I shall afterwards explain that and Government levies a rate to 

by law the Government levies cer- enable it better to meet the expense 

tain 'local rates or cesses' for special of periodical famines a rate which 

purposes, distinct from the land gives rise to very mistaken notions 

revenue, which is Imperial or about what people are pleased to 

general. The district roads and call a ' Famine Insurance Fund.' 
district schools are so provided for ; 

li 2 


But when we began to administer other provinces like 
the North- Western Provinces, or the districts of Madras 
(with exception of the northern part) l it was found, as we 
have seen, that the land-tenures were wholly different, and 
that there were no ' Zamindars ' to hold the Settlement. 
Moreover the inconvenience, and injustice to the public, of 
fixing the revenue for all time, regardless of changes in the 
value of produce, or the rise and fall of agricultural in- 
comes, were soon recognized. Therefore different plans of 
making a Settlement were devised and worked out for the 
different provinces, according to the requirements and local 
conditions of each. 

These plans have been gradually modified and improved 
up to the present day. They retain certain general dis- 
tinctive features, but all have a certain common basis. 
Speaking generally, all the methods commence with a care- 
ful survey, and with a classification of the soil ; and then 
begins the Settlement-Officer's difficult task, viz. to find 
out money-rates per acre which Government can fairly 
charge, as its cash revenue, on the ' proprietors ' for each 
kind or class of soil. 

According to the system in force, the Revenue is either 
assessed in a lump sum on a whole estate which may be 
a considerable area, or a whole group of villages, or a single 
village (or parts of villages), or it is assessed on single fields 
or holdings surveyed, numbered, and marked out on the 
ground. When the estate is in the hands of a great land- 
lord, like the Zamindar of Bengal or North Madras, we call 
it a ZAMINDARI SETTLEMENT ; and in these two instances 

In Oudh we have a TALUQDARf SETTLEMENT, with great 
Taluqdar landlords, but under peculiar conditions, and not 
' permanent.' 

When it is a single village (or some part or pails of 
villages) settled with a landlord body or community, we 

1 The Northern part was in some made for it with Zamindars very 
respects conditioned like Bengal, much on the Bengal lines, 
and a Permanent Settlement was 


call it a VILLAGE (or rather a ' Mahalwar') SETTLEMENT 1 . 
And as this system is prevalent in North- Western India 
(and the Central Provinces) it is frequently spoken of as 
the ' North-West System ' for it was devised in the North- 
Western Provinces. 

In the Central Provinces, we have seen that in each 
village, Government conferred the proprietary right on a 
person called the ' Malguzar ' ; this Settlement is therefore 
often spoken of as theMALGuzARi SETTLEMENT of the Central 
Provinces, though in all essentials it is a Settlement on the 
North- West model. 

Wherever the system assesses each field separately (as in 
Bombay and Madras, and parts of the Central Provinces, 
and in Berar) we have a RAIYATWARI SETTLEMENT. 

That is the very briefest outline of what we are now 
going to look into a little more in detail. But let me add 
one thing more of this general character. 

The theory of the land-revenue being, that it is a share 
in the produce, that share to be fixed by the State itself, 
it might be supposed that all modern systems of assessment 
would aim at finding out the average weight or quantity 
yielded by the share (of each principal crop on each class 
of soil), whatever the share might be, one-half, one-third, 
or two-thirds, and then valuing it in money at a price 
which would (naturally) be the average harvest price of a 
series of years. In fact, in our very first Settlements (putting 
aside the case of the Bengal Zamindars), something like this 
was actually attempted. But it was too difficult and un- 
certain ; and they next tried to make a calculation of the 
' assets ' of the estate. They counted up the total produce 
in gross, and tried to find out the costs of cultivation, wages 
of labour, profits of stock, &c., and, deducting the latter from 
the former, they took a fraction of the balance as the 
revenue or share of the ' assets.' But this also proved im- 
practicable, and so they gradually perfected other methods 

1 See remarks on this in Chap. IV. one sum of revenue, is, in revenue 

p. 170. The village is very often language, the 'Mahal' for assess- 

the unit, but the group of land ment purposes. 
held under one title, assessed to 


which it will be my object to make plain in the sequel ; 
but here I wish only to make it understood that modern 
assessment methods have departed further and further from 
the plan of valuing in money an actual share in produce. 
Certain systems, however, still retain some vestiges of the 
idea: some more than others. 


i. The 'Law and Constitution' of India. 

In introducing the subject of ancient revenue systems, 
and quoting authorities as to what was the king's proper 
share, I must remind the reader that all this was matter of 
custom that curious and often undefinable feeling that 
things ought to be in a certain way because they always 
have been so. The custom, however, has always to give 
way before the necessities of the ruler ; and that is why, in 
spite of all that can be quoted from law-books, we find 
that, in modern times, all Native States claimed, and still 
claim, to be de facto owners of every acre of soil in their 
States, and have taken as much land-revenue as they could 
get without seriously starving the people. Yet, in spite of 
the facts, we find writers especially the early ones talk- 
ing about the ' law and constitution of India'; and at least 
one book (Colonel Galloway's) has been published under 
that title. As a matter of fact, there never has been any- 
thing resembling a ' law and constitution ' for any one of 
the diverse countries included in the geographical term 
' India' (let alone for the whole), in the sense in which an 
English reader would ordinarily understand the term. 

Possibly, in Colonel Galloway's time, Indian history was 
not accessible to the same comprehensive or panoramic 
view of it that, thanks to the labours of Sir W. Hunter and 
others, is now open to us. How it was likely that a series 
of loosely-connected States, always at war with one another, 
overrun from age to age by Dravidians, Greeks, Northern 


Buddhists, Rajputs, Jats, Gujars, Afghans, Mughals, and 
the rest, could ever have possessed any general and authori- 
tative law entitled to be called the ' law and constitution of 
India,' it is not easy to understand. 

I do not, however, ignore the fact that, under all this 
series of dynasties, there were some indications of uniform 
ideas and principles. In the absence of any other force, 
CUSTOM has had a potent influence on the rulers and con- 
querors no less than on the people. All that were in any 
way Hindu, or Hinduized, had certain common feelings ; 
and the Muhammadan conquerors of later days, over whom 
the law-texts of Arabia or of Baghdad never had any 
great hold, knew that their only chance of success was to 
conform as much as possible to the custom of their Hindu 

The early Hindus never had anything that could be 
called a code of practical law. It is absurd to suppose that 
Manu, or any other author's collection of legal maxims, 
(especially in matters of government) was ' in force ' as 
statute law is in England or France. The Muhammadan 
law-books were, perhaps, somewhat more generally referred 
to in matters of criminal and civil law between subject and 
subject; but as regards Government and its rights, they 
were only quoted (when convenient) with a certain respect ; 
their phraseology was also adopted, especially by the more 
religious of the Emperors ; but in reality the legal ' 'ashr,' 
and ' khiraj,' and all the rest of it, according to the Musal- 
man theory of conquest and taxation, had nothing more 
than a nominal or theoretic relation to the land-revenue as 
actually levied in India. 

In this is one of the great contrasts between Oriental and 
European rule. The moment a modern Englishman gets 
into a district, his law-abiding soul looks for some Act or 
rule, or some ' Circular ' by which he may be guided. 
Doubtless the ' paternal ' District Officer dislikes the ' sec- 
tion 10, sub-section 3,' that prevents him making the order 
that he thinks needed for the particular case before him, 
and he abhors the pleader, with his niceties and technical 


difficulties ; but, all the same, he desires a substratum of 
plain and solid authority on which to rely. He will have 
some kind of standard and keep to it ; he will be content 
with nothing less, and he will sternly prevent any one from 
exacting more. His revenue-demand shall be assessed 
according to law, under the supervision of Commissioners 
and Boards, with the one idea of making it equal, just, 
and easily borne : but once fixed, it must be paid in full, 
regularly and to the day. 

The Oriental administrator, on the contrary, avoids rigid 
rules, and rarely attempts definition. That is why every 
Indian institution connected with landed rights or propri- 
etary interests, often presents seemingly contradictory and 
irreconcileable features ; a man is what we call a landlord 
in one aspect, and something quite different in another 
aspect. This is distraction to the European ruler. To the 
Oriental mind it is highly satisfactory; to the ruler, 
because it enables him to do what he pleases ; to the ruled, 
because it discovers a way of escape: neither can be caught 
between the bars of a rule and made to feel ' You cannot 
do this because it is illegal,' or (on the other hand) 'You 
must be bound to submit to so and so, because your legal 
position as a " proprietor " or a " tenant " (or whatever it is) 
necessarily involves such and such a condition.' He can 
turn one face or the other to the outside, and act on this 
presentment of the case or on that, as it suits him, caring 
nothing for legal consistency or definiteness of principle. 

As soon as circumstances compelled the ruler to ex- 
change his grain-share for a money payment, the earliest 
methods were quite hap-hazard. Great rulers like Akbar, 
and wise ministers like Todar Mai or Malik 'Arnbar (in 
the Dakhan) no doubt endeavoured to propound a fixed, 
equitable rule for assessing land ; but they could not bind 
their successors. 

We consequently find the later rulers enhanced the land- 
revenue from time to time as they pleased; and it is 
absolutely absurd to say that by 'ancient law and con- 
stitution ' or what not they could not do so. We are no 


doubt credibly informed that in early days the Rajas 
contented themselves with their ' sixth ' ; and no doubt, 
as long as there was peace, and cultivation went 
on prosperously, there was little or no temptation to take 
more. But in more recent times it has always been 
the fact that the native rulers have taken to the full 
as much as they could get. But how ? by an arbitrary, 
elastic, method of alternate squeezing and loosing. Native 
rulers have always been ready to take the whole in good 
years, but have rarely shown themselves wanting in a 
perfectly unsystematic but practically-working sense of 
adaptation which does not let the pressure be overdone 
in a bad year 1 . Any definition or straightness of 'law' 
would have militated directly against this most obvious and 
characteristic feature of native rule. 

And in all cases the restraint of ' custom ' was felt by all 
classes, both ruler and ruled. The 'Amil or other collector 
knew exactly how far the golden eggs could be multiplied 
without killing the goose that laid them. 

When, therefore, we refer to Manu for Hindu ideas, or to 
the Hiddyd and other Muhammadan text-books, it is not 
because these have, or ever had, any authority as practical 
statute-books at any rate in the realm of public or consti- 
tutional law but because the books of a time must more 
or less reflect the ideas of the people, and because, of course, 
a pious Hindu or a religious Muhammadan prince would 
always, to some extent, allow the value, as guides, of books 
written by sages or doctors of his semi-sacred law. 

We may, therefore, quote the books, but remember that 
the only general ' law and constitution ' of India was, that 
the people did what was the custom, and the king did 
what he chose., at least within the limits of the possible 
limits which the elastic Oriental mind has ordinarily well 
known how to keep. 

1 I speak of course of the average everything and left depopulated 
fair-dealing ruler. There have been villages and ruined provinces ; but 
tyrants here and there, who seized these were exceptional. 


i. The Hindu State organization. 

Now let us turn backward, and place ourselves, in 
imagination, in the days when a regularly established 
Hindu State was in working order, in very much the 
condition which is indicated rather than described in 
MANU'S Institutes. 

The whole country occupied by the tribe or clan who 
selected and conquered the locality, was first divided out 
into large territories or divisions, and the central and 
largest (or at any rate the best) one was assigned to the 
head chief called ' Raja V 

Bound about him, other estates, graduated in size, were 
occupied by lesser chiefs, heads of tribal groups or sections. 
These would be represented by such titles as 'Thakur,' 
' Rana,' 'Rao,' or 'Babu 2 .' Every one of these held his estate 
on certain terms of service to the Raja, which I will pass 
over without more detail than to say that a fine was paid 
on succession ; that homage was done ; that, on summons, 
the chief had to attend with his force; that he was ex- 
pected to aid with such contributions as were, in times of 
difficulty, required. In some parts the most distant of the 
' estates ' were in hilly country ; and here the chief was 
more independent than the rest, and was expected to keep 
the passes, and prevent the descent of neighbouring hostile 
tribes and robbers to harass the dominions of the Raja and 
his chiefs. 

Inside the Raja's domain or ' khalsa,' as the later Rajputs 
and also the Sikhs called it, the greater portion of the land 
was directly under the control of the king's officers a 
graded series of district and village authorities and a 
certain portion of it was held or managed under royal 

1 See Sterling's account of Orissa territory.' 

kingdoms in Asiatic Researches, vol. 2 This term, now commonly em- 

xv. p. 220. ' In every part of India, ployed to designate a clerk in office, 

it would seem that under the really applies to a native gentleman 

Hindus, the domains reserved for of wealth and position, and pri- 

the Crown constituted, if not the marily (in some places) indicates 

largest, at least the most valuable the sons, nephews, &c., of the Raja 

and productive shares of the whole or other chief. 


grant or assignment, by courtiers, ministers of State, chief 
judges, and military officers, as well as by the younger sons 
and dependants of the royal house. 

The Raja enjoyed two main sources of revenue: 

I. The first was the throne-right (spoken of as the 'gaddi' 
or state cushion) with a right to certain tolls and taxes, transit 
duties on trade, excise, rights in the forests (if there were 
any) 1 , and taxes from the artisan and trading classes. 

It is possible that if the other chiefs were not powerful, 
these royal rights might extend over their domains as well. 

This group of rights was indivisible, or went to the 
successor of the Raja, always the eldest son or next heir- 

II. The second source of revenue was the share in the 
grain produce of every bigha of cultivated land, already 
spoken of. 

It will be observed that just as the Raja took this share 
for his own ' khalsa ' or demesne lands, so did the separate 
chiefs in their estates : the Raja took no grain-share in 
them 2 . Exactly in the same way, where the Raja made a 
grant (or in later days a sale) of a part of his own demesne 
lands to a courtier or a general, &c., the grantee took the 
share (and perhaps some of the other taxes and tolls) which 
would otherwise have gone to the king. 

This fact is at the bottom of a great deal connected both 
with land-tenures, and the land-revenue. And we have 
already seen how, from the Raja's grants and from the 
break-up of the territories, village landlord communities 
have arisen. 

Of course the fate of the ancient Hindu States has been 
very various. The smaller ones have often fallen out of 
rank; the 'Royal' family has quarrelled; the estate has 
split up like those just mentioned, and dissolved into a 

1 See Chap. IV. p. 128. Coorg, Malabar, &c., the fact being 

a The reader will bear this in that the mistake arose from looking 

mind, because forgetfulness of it has at lands which formed chiefs' es- 

been the source of a great deal of tates, from which the Raja as tribal 

nonsense written in former days chief never did take a royalty, 

about there never having been any whether in Malabar or in any other 

Royal revenue-share levied, as iu country where Rajas existed. 


number of village-landlord families, only known from the 
rest of the village cultivators by their higher caste and 
memories of a more dignified origin in the remote past. 
In other cases the old Hindu kingdoms were either sub- 
dued or destroyed before the conquest, whether of the 
Afghan, the Mughal, the Maratha, the Sikh, or the armies 
of Olive or Wellesley or Lake. 

In this case, the Raja's grain-share passed on to the con- 
queror, or succeeding power. If the Raja had been killed 
in battle, or had fled, there was no one to share or diminish 
it ; it was simply collected by the State machinery of the 
conquering king or emperor ; if the Raja survived under 
the conqueror as a subordinate noble, he was probably in- 
stalled by royal grant as a ' Zamindar' or ' Taluqdar'; and 
continued to collect the grain-share as before, but had now 
to pass on a portion perhaps the greater portion 1 to the 
treasury of the conqueror ; and he made his own wealth by 
other privileges which in the end left him richer than 
before ; he was allowed to cultivate the waste, and take the 
profits for himself; he was gradually allowed to bargain 
with the State for a fixed revenue payment and keep the 
difference between that contract sum and what he could 
collect from the ' raiyats.' Then it was that the idea of the 
right of reassessing the revenue-share from time to time, 
ill-defined as that practice was, inevitably occurred to 
him ; and when, under our own rule, the title in the land 
was secured to the Zamindars, the power of raising the 
assessment soon developed into the ' landlord,' and his right 
of ' enhancing ' the ' rents,' which proved such a source of 
burning discussion for after years. 

But this is to anticipate ; we must first consider how the 
Hindu Revenue Administration was conducted, and how the 
system fell in with Muhammadan ideas, and was adopted 
by the Mughal conquerors, and has come down, in a modi- 
fied form, to the British Government. 

1 When, in later days, in Bengal, local revenue, the theory was (and 
the emperor's deputy allowed the at first the practice) that nine- 
surviving Rajas (as well as modern tenths of the whole collections were 
officials and farmers) to collect the passed on to the State treasury. 

6 3. The Internal Administration. 

t ' 

Taking what was probably the most regularly governed 
territory, we may look within the Raja's demesne to see 
how it was managed. The initial grouping of lands is of 
course the ' village,' and to this unit attention was mostly 
paid, because if the grain collection went wrong there, 
nothing else would go right. In the last chapter we have 
fully gone into the question of the origin of villages, and 
shown how cultivation could only be done by aggregates 
of men who were united in some sort of bond for mutual 
society and protection. Whether the villages were actually 
primaeval settlements of tribes, allotting the lands accord- 
ing to custom, or whether they were later foundations by 
colonists and settlers, it was natural that some one man 
should take the lead as the representative of the village ; 
and as the collection of the king's share at the threshing- 
floor required watching, that headman was naturally drawn 
more and more into connection with the State, and became 
in fact a State officer. No wonder, then, that the office 
soon assumed an hereditary character, and that, what with 
the importance his State connection gave him, and the 
emoluments which he was allowed to enjoy, the headman 
became an institution so useful, that he survived where 
many other institutions gradually disappeared. The fact 
that every village from which the king drew a share, had 
a headman alluded to in the early books as the ' grdmad- 
hikar,' and later on by a multitude of names ('patel,' 
'mandal/ 'pradhan,' and later still, 'muqaddam' and 
' lambardar ') became a recognized universal fact of village 

But the headman required the assistance of a person who 
could write and do sums and keep the accounts of the col- 
lection, and register facts regarding the land and its culti- 
vators ; so that a village ' patwari ' the ' gramalekhak ' 
(village-writer) of ancient days became equally a neces- 
sary part of the system. 

The natural land-unit of the revenue system being the 


village, its administration furnished the pattern for all the 
rest. The village official personnel was, for Government 
purposes, simply repeated in wider and wider circles, first 
over a smaller area, and then again, over a still larger area 
such as we now call a district. 

As regards the ' district,' there are allusions in Manu to 
' a lord over 1000 villages ' ; and we have traces, in parts of 
India, both of the ancient districts and of the officers who 
presided over them, still remembered in later Hindu dia- 
lects as ' sirdesmukh ' (chief head of a ' des ') ; with him an 
accountant of the district was also recognized. But the 
most generally used and best known division was that 
which was smaller than a ' district' and comprised the charge 
of eighty-four villages or some similar group. It is better 
known to us by the later (Muhammadan) name of 'par- 
gana.' It was always adopted by the Mughal system, and 
the parganas into which the country was then divided, 
are almost everywhere known to this day. In Maratha 
countries, and by the Sikhs, the same division was 
known by the name ' talukaV 

The pargana or taluka official staff just repeated that of 
the village, only in the larger jurisdiction. There was the 
' desmukh ' or pargana headman, and the ' des-pandya,' or 
desai, who kept the pargana accounts. The former, as we 
shall see, became the ' chaudhari ' of later times, and the 
latter the ' qanungo.' Directly under these were the villages ; 
unless indeed for certain purposes, a circle of villages was 
locally recognized and called a 'tappa,' intermediate 
between the pargana and the single village. 

It seems that from very early times these officials were 
paid (wholly or partly) by holding land revenue-free in 
virtue of their office, which is exactly the ' watan ' it after- 
wards came to be called in Central India and Bombay 2 . 
' Let the lord of ten villages,' says Manu, ' enjoy the produce 
of two plough lands (or as much ground as can be tilled 

1 This was the Arabic word write it so. 

' ta'alluqa,' but as it was adopted as 2 See Chapter IV, on Land Ten- 

a Hindi word in the form taluka, I ures, p. 180. 


with two ploughs), the lord of twenty that of ten ploughs, 
the lord of 100 that of a village, the lord of 1000 that of 
a large village.' Traces of this holding of service-lands (ser- 
vice I here use of official service as distinct from laud held 
for military service) we shall meet with all over India ; it 
extended not only to the village, subdivision, and district 
headmen and account-keepers, but to the watchmen, priests, 
and even artisans of the villages. The reason why the 
official holdings, as a direct origin of a peculiar land-tenure, 
survived so in Central and Western India, and to a lesser 
extent in the South, and disappeared in the North, is that 
in the former countries the Muhammadan kings were even 
more respectful to local institutions than the Mughals ; and 
though the Mughal Empire at last extended over the Dakhan, 
its duration was brief and its hold imperfect. The Maratha 
rulers, who followed the Mughals, were Hindu, and there- 
fore imbued with the spirit of the universal Hindu system. 
Averse to revenue-free holdings as they were, they did not 
dare to interfere with such a deeply-rooted institution as 
the Hindu official's hereditary land-holding. 

4. The Mughal Revenue-organization. 

How very generally the Mughals preserved the Hindu 
system, only with some attempt at definition and with the 
adoption of Perso-Arabic official terms for everything 
terms that have come down to our own officers is well 
known through the description given by Ab-ul-Fazl (Akbar's 
minister) in his Ayin-i-Akbari, and through other his- 

The great provinces, like Bengal, Oudh (in later times), 
the Dakhan, Allahabad, &c., were the grand divisions, and 
were designated ' SiibaV Each Siiba was primarily divided 

1 Before the Mughal times, some (officially called Subadar) threw off 

of them, as Bengal and Jaunpur, their allegiance and set up as sepa- 

had been independent Afghan rate States. Oudh, and the State of 

kingdoms, and became Miighal the Nizam of Hyderabad in the 

Siibas. Again in the days of de- Dakhan, are familiar examples, 
cline, the Nawabs or other governors 


into districts (but larger than our present districts) called 
' SirkarV 

The Sirkar was divided into parganas (sometimes called 
mahals), and these, for sojne purposes, were aggregated into 
contiguous groups called ' dastiir ' 2 (or dastur-ul-'aml) a 
grouping which does not appear long to have survived, or 
to have had any great importance. 

In the reign of Shah Jahan, another subdivision was 
recognized, that of ' chakla ' : it was a division of the Suba. 
Thus, in Bengal, in the time of Ja'far Khan, the Suba was 
divided into thirty-two Sirkars or into thirteen chaklas 3 . 
We read of the Company being granted, in 1 760, the ' chakla ' 
of Bardwan in Bengal. 

In Akbar's time the important revenue officer was the 
''amil' (or 'amlguzar), who supervised the village collections 
of his district, and adjusted the assessments on the prin- 
ciples of the Settlement made during this reign. The 'amil's 
jurisdiction was not determined by area, but according to 
the amount of revenue under his control. Thus it would 
happen that the charge would be small where the land was 
well populated and highly cultivated, and larger in a poor 
and barren country. The 'amil was in after times called 
' Karori ' the officer who collected a ' crore ' (ten million = 
Karor) of ' dams ' (i. e. R. 2,50,000) 4 . Still later, the Ka- 
rori's duty was restricted to revenue-collection, the assess- 
ments being made by another officer (amin-faujdar), in 
subordination to whom the Karori acted. 

1 Incorrectly written ' Circar.' known in Oudh, not in the North- 
Thus we read of the Northern Cir- Western Provinces. In Bengal cer- 
cars of Madras. It was suggested tainly the Chakla was not part of 
that each Suba should consist of a Sirkar, but a larger district, as 
twenty-two Sirkars, and each Sirkar the numbers in the text show. The 
of twenty-two parganas, but this ' Chakladar' was the District Officer, 
was only an idea never realised in and the 'mil was under him for one 
practice. or more ' parganas ' : the 'amil 

2 Beames' Elliott's Glossary, vol. ii. might be alone, or there might also 
p. 20 et seq. be a revenue-farmer at the same 

* Fifth Report, vol. i. 19, 389. time. (North-Western Provinces Gazette, 

Beames' Elliott's Glossary speaks of vii. 107 note.) 

the ' Chakla ' as a division of a * The ' dam ' was a small copper 

' Sirkar,' somewhat larger than coin, of somewhat doubtful value ; 

a modern ' district ' but less than in Akbar's time, it is said, forty 

a Commissioner's division. It was went to the rupee. 


For each pargana there was a district accountant- 
registrar, called ' Kanungo ' (Qamingo = one who declares 
the rule or standard). He was the Hindu ' Des-pandya.' 
The executive officer of the pargana was called Chaudhari, 
the old Hindu ' des-mukh.' 

5. The Jdgir System. 

One other feature of the Mughal system should be men- 
tioned. Just as the Hindus divided the whole country 
into the royal domains and chiefs domains, so the Mughals 
apportioned their territory into 'khalsa ' and 'jagir' lands. 
The former was divided into charges, and managed by 
'amils and State officials, as just described. The rest was 
divided out into blocks, or estates, which were made over 
for life (the grants became hereditary at a later stage) to 
certain military commanders, ministers, and courtiers, who 
took the revenues for their own support, or that of a mili- 
tary force which they were bound to maintain. Probably 
the idea was copied from the Hindu system. Sometimes 
waste tracts were granted in 'jagir,' and sometimes out- 
lying and troublesome districts. The jagirdar managed 
the whole, increased the cultivation, and applied the re- 
venue to his own support, and to the expenses of the 
administration and the pay of troops. While a strict 
control lasted, the jagirdar was bound to take no more 
than the sum assigned ; and if more came into his hands, 
he had rigidly to account for the surplus to the State 
treasury 1 . The system of assigning the revenues of a 
tract as a reward for good service, or the support of troops, 
is a regular Oriental method, and has been continued in 
our own times in a modified form. 

1 The system of Jaglrs, which has chapter, is more fully explained in 
also been touched on in the last the chapter on Bengal Tenures. 

VOL. I. 


6. Farming or Contracting Systems. 

The last phase in the administration was that which 
marked the later days of the Empire after the death of 

I have already explained T how important it was for the 
Mughal rulers to conciliate, and if possible make use of, the 
old Rajas, who, though yielding submission to the conqueror, 
were only too likely to give trouble directly a chance of 
revolt occurred. This circumstance led to the appointment 
of Rajas to collect, or rather to contract for, certain defined 
sums of revenue required from their territories. I have also 
explained how, in days of disorder and feeble rule, such a 
plan of contracting for a fixed sum of revenue saved all the 
trouble of local control, and so was generally adopted ; and 
then, not only old territorial chiefs, but speculators, courtiers, 
and quondam officials, were allowed to become revenue- 
farmers, either of parganas or of larger or smaller areas, 
according to their means and spheres of influence. Their 
territories were spoken of as the ' ihtimdm,' or charge. A 
Raja, a chaudhari, or a speculator with no title at all, thus 
appointed to manage the tract under his influence, would 
be equally designated as the ' landholder ' or ' Zamindar ' 
of his territory, and would be so called in the ' sanad,' or 
official warrant of his appointment. A person allowed a 
somewhat less important tract on the same terms (and some- 
times made subordinate to a ' Zamindar ') would be called 
' Taluqdar.' In Oudh, the title of ' Taluqddr ' was applied, 
with no suggestion of inferior rank, to holders of estates of 
the first class 2 . 

At first, the duty of such a ' landholder ' was strictly to 
gather the revenues of the villages, and retain only his own 
recognized share of the total, which was usually one-tenth, 

1 See Chap. IV. p. 185. mindar ' had acquired a special 

2 Possibly it was that the Oudh meaning in Oudh, and was applied 
Taluqs were not so large as the dis- to grantees or others who had the 
tricts of Bengal Zamindars : but I management of single villages, 
think it likely that the term ' za- 


besides making certain other deductions, all exactly speci- 
fied and accounted for. But in time the strictness was 
relaxed, and the ' Zamindars ' were simply required to make 
good a lump-sum, raised from time to time, and partaking 
more and more of the nature of a bargain. Under such a 
system, oppression of the country people was sure to follow. 
All regular assessments, and authorized revisions of land- 
revenues, were further and further abandoned 1 . The 
Treasury authorities of the province merely increased 
their demands on the ' Zamindar ' by adding extra cesses, 
giving them this name or that, according to the par- 
ticular necessity or fancy that originated them. These 
amounts had, of course, to be got out of the villages 
with a good deal more besides. In the days of decline, 
as we shall see, both in Oudh and Bengal, an occasional 
vigorous governor would make a desperate grasp at the 
reins of revenue-control ; for a time the revenue-farming, or 
Zamindari management, would be set aside, and an attempt 
made to return to village collections through the pargana 
officials ; but always without lasting result. Exactly 
the same thing happened in the first days of British rule. 
Zamindars were set aside, and other local collectors tried ; 
but in vain. The Zamindari system had become the only 
one by which the revenues could be secured ; at least, 
without aji entirely new system, which would have in- 
volved a survey of the lands, and other steps, which were 
not possible at the time, even if anyone had thought of 

1 Farming the revenues (a bad (home-farm) at privileged rates.' 

example which was often copied in The farmer, however, was bound 

our first essays at management) was to let the tenant's rates alone for 

always the resource either of go- the period of his lease. The Ro- 

vernments in their decline or of hillas certainly succeeded from a 

mere marauders like the Rohillas. financial point of view. They raised 

The Marathas adopted it also when from Bareilly a sum nearly equal to 

their position was not secure. The sixteen lakhs of our currency in 

Rohillas made farming the corner- 1754, which is not far short of the 

stone of their financial system, and assessment 120 years later. But 

it is still in force in the small after twenty- five years of the Nawab 

Roh ilia State of Rampur. '"Pro- Wazir's;0udh^ rule, the revenue had 

prietors " were not recognized ; the fallen to half that amount. (Review 

only favour conceded to landholders of Bareilly Settlement Report, p. 5. ) 
was permission to hold their " sir" 

8 2 


How this contract system spread all over Bengal, and 
over the upper part of Madras ; how, in a modified form, 
it was adopted in Oudh, and to a much less extent and in 
a different form, it prevailed in Northern India ; how it 
was only allowed by the Maratha"s to a limited extent, and 
for individual villages ; and how, wherever adopted, it 
produced various effects on the land-tenures, I have already 
given some idea in the last chapter. Here I must return 
to the revenue-administration, and pass on to notice the 
changes that followed from the example set by the Mughal 
Empire, in later Hindu States Rajput, Maratha, and Sikh. 
Indeed, they were very slight. When we look to the 
organization of Rajput States, as we find them after the 
time of Akbar whose policy had been to encourage and 
gain the support of the Rajput princes we find a number 
of Persian revenue terms gradually introduced, but the 
administration essentially the same as that of the early 

Exactly the same thing happened when Maratha States 
rose on the ruins of the Muhammadan and Pathan king- 
doms, and when the Sikh States took the place of the 
Afghan governor in the Panjab. 

7. Post-Mughal Hindu Administration. 

The Hindus always held to the system I have already 
described, the allotment of the whole territory into tracts 
governed by the Raja or overlord, and tracts governed by 
his ' feudal ' chiefs ; and I have before alluded to their 
recognition of estates called bhumiya holdings which were 
virtually proprietary estates but of inferior rank, because 
the holders were proprietors, not governors. The direct 
management was by heads of districts, practically the same 
as the Muhammadan 'pargana,' and called taluka; under 
these were subdivisions called ' tappa,' and then came the 

The only remarkable fact is this, that the later Hindu 


States adopted many Perso-Arabic terms derived from the 
Muhammadan system 1 . 

8. Mardthd Revenue System. 

For central government each Maratha State had a Divvan 
or Minister. Under him was the Fard-navis, a sort of 
Financial Minister, and with him the Mazum- (or Majmu'a) 
-dar, or Registrar. There was also a Chitta-navfs (letter- 
writer or Secretary), a ' Sikka-navis,' who kept the Prince's 
seal, and a ' Pot-navis,' or Treasury Officer. This group 
formed the ' Secretariat ' or State Department. 

In the districts, a considerable territory was in charge of 
a ' kamavisdar,' who had deputies in each subdivision. The 
deputy, again, in each patta, subdivision, or tappa, was aided 
by a 'karkun' or agent. The minor subdivisions varied 
according to convenience. The Marathas sometimes con- 
tinued the use of the Muhammadan ' sirkar ' and ' pargana,' 
and sometimes spoke of the ' taluka.' The ' tappa ' used 
by them was larger than a pargana, and was subdi- 
vided into 'zilas 2 .' But each district was not left to 
the kamavisdar alone : his authority was shared by an 
officer called the 'zamindar.' Here we have another mean- 
ing for this Protean term. The zamindar was, in fact, the 
old ' desrnukh ' with a new name ; he was the executive 
head collector ; and the kamavisdar was really put in as 
a spy or check on him to prevent his absorbing the revenue. 
Of course the kanungo or district accountant was main- 
tained, and he ranked next below the ' zamindar.' 

9. Later Rajput States. 

The later Rajput States had, and still have, an exactly 
similar system, only with different names : thus the diwan 

1 Just as the Sikhs adopted Per- from the use later acquired, where 

sian for the official or Court ' zila' ' was adopted in the Regula- 

language. tions, for the district embracing 

8 Malcolm, vol. ii. p. 4. The term several parganas. 
'zila',' as here locally used,is different 


was called ' kamdar ' = charge d'affaires ; the fard-navis was 
called ' daftari,' and so forth. 

It should be remembered that certain tracts were 
either held by renters or farmers, or by 'jagirdars,' 
military and other assignees of the revenue of certain 
areas ; and in these tracts the official collectors did not 

The Marathas, and the better Rajput chiefs, were careful 
of their territories. 'All ground,' says Sir J. Malcolm 1 , 'be 
it ever so waste or hilly, is included in the divisions (par- 
gana, tappa, taluka, &c.) which are marked by natural or 
artificial boundaries, such as rivers, water-courses, ranges 
of hills, trees, rocks, ridges, or lines between any two re- 
markable objects. The lands were measured, including the 
space occupied by banks, walls, houses, &c., in the time of 
the Mughal Government ; and this record of measurement 
was lodged in the office of every zaminddr of a district as 
well as in the fard-navis' (State Secretary's) office. Several 
of these records have been saved ; but where they are not, 
the ease with which the memory of the respective limits 
was preserved by the hereditary officers of the district and 
village to whom this duty belongs, is very extraordinary.' 

10. -Sikh System in the Punjab. 

When the Sikh Government succeeded to the Muslim 
dominions in the Panj&b, they followed the same system. 
I may pass over the first short period when the confederate 
and equal chiefs (grouped in what were called 'misl') 
divided the country into a multitude of ' taluqas 2 .' Soon 
the genius of Ranjit Singh prevailed, and he became King 
(or Maharaja) and made the other chiefs ' feudal ' lords and 
governors of districts under him. These governors he called 
' Jagirdar, or ' Diwan,' or ' Nazim,' as the case might be. 
Under these, again, were districts of manageable size (talu- 

1 Vol. ii. p. 5. course quarrelled, and very soon 

2 The Sikh dominion commenced they were reduced under one head, 
with a sort of confederacy of a See Hunter's India (Gaz, vol. vi. 
number of equal chiefs. They of p. 410, and edition.) 


qas), and ' Kardars ' were the presiding officers, who assessed 
and collected the revenues. 

n. Resume of Native Systems. 

In short, the student will bear in mind that the Mughal 
system, as introduced by Akbar and his successors (before 
that organization was virtually replaced by the system of 
revenue-farming}, was, in fact, the old Hindu model. 
The Hindu States always kept it up, only that they 
preferred several of the Persian names that the Mughal 
Empire had introduced. The fact was, that while the 
early Hindu system had been one without any survey 
or measurement, and without any records to speak of, 
the Mughal rulers crystallized it into more business-like 
permanence, by measuring and recording villages, parganas, 
and 'sirkars' with their revenue assessment. Once fixed, 
the local hereditary officers became the depositaries of the 
measures, rules, and facts (qamingo means the officer who 
' declares ' the ' rule,' measure, or law in revenue matters). 
All later Governments were glad to avail themselves of 
these records; and the old formal assessment of Akbar's 
date formed a sort of basis or fundamental assessment, 
remembered with almost superstitious reverence, though 
of course it was altered and increased according to circum- 
stances, and no one really expected to be assessed according 
to it, unless he conceived a right to hold at fixed rates, which 
was thus expressed. Briefly, the essential features of all 
historic revenue-management, whether Rajput, Mughal, 
Maratha, or Sikh, have been the following, under whatever 
variety of names : 

(1) the village, with its headman and accountant ; 

(2) very frequently there was an intermediate grouping 

of villages forming a 'tappa,' under a minor civil 
officer and staff; this is not always found ; 

(3) a larger district forming a pargana or taluka, under a 

district headman (kardar, 'amil, chaudhari, karorf, 
&c.), and aided by an accountant (kanungo) ; 


(4) Several parganas united into a sirkar (or locally a 
chakla) under a Diwan, Nazim, &c. 

Wherever revenue-farming arrangements were introduced 
in the late Mughal days, it was on a large scale ; and the 
local magnate who became contractor, first atrophied and 
then obliterated the local revenue staff; whereas, when the 
Marathas and Sikhs adopted farming it was chiefly by 
single villages or small taluqas. 


i. The Hindu Theory. 

I have called attention to the fact that the earlier races 
who preceded the Aryans or, as I call them, Rajputs, 
according to their later and surviving name did not origin- 
ally accord their king a share in the grain-heap of every 
village in his dominion, but allotted him the entire produce 
of certain lands. In Chutiya Nagpur, for instance, among 
the Dravidian races, and among the Gonds and others of 
Central and South India, we find distinct traces of the 
allotment of areas for the king, ministers, and so on, down 
to the village heads 1 . But even there the practice gradu- 
ally grew up of taking a grain-share from the other lands 
also. And this practice became universal. The Hindu 
States always took a grain-share for the king in his 
territories, and for the chiefs in theirs. 

The idea of a ' share ' for the king seems to have been a 
very early one : thus Sir John Malcolm quotes the Mahd- 
bhdrata as alluding to the origin of kings : ' Mankind ' 
(says the author) ' were continually opposing each other, 
and they at last went to Brahma to ask him to appoint a 
king over them. Manu was directed to be their king. He 
replied, " I fear a sinful action : government is arduous, 
especially among ever-lying men." They said, " Fear not ; 

1 See also the section on Chutiya' Nagpur Tenures (Bengal). 


you will receive a recompense : of beasts a fiftieth part, 
and also of gold, and we will give you a tenth of the corn, 
increasing your store,"' &C. 1 Manu (chap. vii. 127-130) 
says : ' Of cattle, of gems, of gold and silver, added each 
year to the capital stock [the king's share is] a fiftieth 
part 2 , of grain an eighth part, or a sixth or a twelfth, 
according to the difference of the soil and the labour neces- 
sary to cultivate it.' In Chap, x, v. 118, it is admitted 
that the share may be raised to one-fourth of the crops at 
a time of urgent necessity, as in war or invasion ; and so 
the tax on the mercantile classes may be raised. It was 
noticed that in Alexander's time the cultivators were 
already contributing one-fourth of the grain 3 . In the great 
southern Hindu kingdom -of Bijanagar or Vijayanagar 
(which lasted till the seventeenth century), the Minister 
Vidyaranya declared that a king who took more than one- 
sixth ' shall be deemed impious in this world, and shall be 
cast into hell-flames in the next 4 .' 

Colonel Wilks, in his History of Mysore, has given other 
instances of the southern kingdoms taking one-sixth 5 . 

Harihar Hai, who was one of the early kings of Bijanagar 
(A.D. 1334-47), is said to have divided the grain thus : half, 
including the straw, to the cultivator ; and the remaining 
half was made into three shares, one of which went to the 
king, one to the overlord or ' proprietor ' of the village, and 
one-third to priests and the religious classes ; but the latter 
the king also took, on the plea that he supported the 
priests 6 . 

From the many allusions in books, it seems probable 
that, as long as the old kingdoms were at peace, the tradi- 

1 Malcolm, vol. i. p. 231, note. Wilks tells us of a Pandyan king 

2 Briggs notices that in the time invading Kanara in the thirteenth 
of Tavernier the king took two per century, who made the people give 
cent, of the gems found at Gol- him the sixth of husked rice, thus 
khanda (the celebrated diamond adding ten per cent, to the con- 
mines, then worked). tribution at one stroke. 

3 Strabo, lib. xv. 1030 ; and Dio- 6 See this more fully described, 
dorus Siculus, ii. 53, quoted by and the curious method of calculating 
Briggs. the produce by a certain multiple 

4 Briggs, p. 62. of the seed sown, described in Sir 

5 But it seerns that the sixth was T. Munro's Minute on Kanara, given 
enlarged very easily. Thus, Colonel in Arbuthnot, p. 61 of vol. i. 


tional sixth was adhered to 1 . The king had no expanding 
administrations nor demands like those on a modern 
government ; and as long as the revenue-share came in 
regularly, and as it was moderately increased by increase of 
cultivation and by the other tolls and dues which the king 
levied, he had no great temptation to raise the share, at any 
rate formally and openly. But there always comes a time 
when invasion and war and other difficulties disturb affairs ; 
and in later days we shall find Hindu kingdoms, no less 
than others, raising the revenue freely. 

In other places, the share of two-fifths was commonly 
levied, and the ' panchdo ' is still a traditionally common 
proportion of grain-produce, now paid to a ' proprietor ' who 
has intervened between the cultivator and the king. 

The ' Fifth Report ' gives many more details as to the 
extent of shares taken at different times 2 . What the Sikh 
demand was, will appear fully in the chapter on the Panjab 
Revenue System. 

It is unnecessary, however, to go into further detail, 
because, whatever was the early practice, and whatever its 
causes and its duration, it is quite certain, as Campbell 
remarks, that in later times the practice in all States a 
practice that can be traced back before the end of the 
seventeenth century, at any rate was to take a half of the 
grain in some cases, and in places where money assess- 
ments were levied, as much as could be got without driving 

1 Indeed, Abul Fazl, in the Ayin- for the royal ' privy purse.' No 

i-Akbari, says the Hindu custom public works, no army, and no 

was to take one-sixth (of the gross police had to be maintained out of 

produce). And see M. Williams' it. The army was supported by the 

translation of the Sakuntald, Act II. estates on the feudal system, and so 

p. 49. with the police as far as there was 

"Vol. ii. pp. 411, 462, 472-3; any distinct from the military force, 

see also Hunter's Orissa, vol. i. p. And when the great tanks, bathing 

32-5 ; Campbell (Cobden Club Papers), places, and other works which are 

p. 155. See also Sir T. Munro's now looked on with just admiration 

opinion in a Minute at page 92 of as showing the wealth, power, and 

Arbuthnot, vol. i. See also note in wisdom of the old kings, were made, 

Phillips, p. 227, showing that there it was chiefly by unpaid labour, 

was no real limit on the share. It or at least by labour fed with food 

should be remembered with refer- taken from the neighbourhood. All 

ence to the supposed moderation of this cannot be ignored in comparing 

the ' one-sixth,' that it really re- the modern system with the 

presented little more than a charge ancient. 


the raiyats to abscond into the jungle, and by the carefully 
elastic mode of exaction which the old rulers were so 
clever in applying. 

2. Muhammadan theory of Land-Revenue. 

I will now briefly allude to the Muhammadan law theory 
of the revenue not, as I have already said, because the 
Mughals really understood it or carried it out, but because 
it was sometimes convenient for the orthodox to refer to it ; 
and because, occasionally, fanatical rulers did impose some 
of the taxes eo nomine on the Hindus. 

The theory was that the inhabitants of a country might 
be regarded as ' milli,' or peaceful ; ' zinimi' or subdued 
infidels ; and ' harbl' those in arms against the Muslim ; 
and the treatment of a conquered country may be briefly 
described in the words of an author quoted in Colonel 
Galloway's Law and Constitution of India l : ' When the 
Imam (leader of the faithful) conquers the country by force 
of arms, if he permits the inhabitants to remain, he imposes 
the khirdj on their lands and the jaziya (correctly jiziyat] 
on their heads ' ; and he adds that the land then remains 
the property of the conquered 2 . 

Some authors considered khirdj to be of different kinds 
the term in itself meant the whole of the surplus pro- 
duce after deducting the cost of production 3 . 

But there was also the more lenient form of ' khirdj 
mukdsima,' or division of produce, by which the sovereign 

1 P. 32 : the work is called Siraj- tribute as they can bear, may be 
ul-wahaj. imposed, instead of death, on in- 

2 With the poll-tax or ' jaziya ' fidels ; and it is commanded that 
we have no concern ; but the reader the jaziya and khirdj be exacted to 
will find some curious facts about it the uttermost farthing, in order 
in Beames' Elliott's Glossary, vol. ii. that the punishment may approach 
sub voc. jaziya. Thus 'Al-ud-din as near as possible to death.' ' You 
Khilji is described as conversing may perceive,' replied the king, 
with a learned Qazi ' From what ' that without reading learned 
description of Hindus is it lawful books, I am in the habit of putting 
to exact obedience and tribute ? ' in practice that which has been en- 
The Qazi replies : ' Imam Hanif joined by the Prophet.' 

says that the jaziya, or as heavy a 3 Quoted in Briggs, p. 115. 


took one-fifth or so. This was, of course, the exact counter- 
part of the old Hindu grain-share. 

The tax converted into money was called ' khirdj-mu'wa- 
zifa' or simply ' wazifa,' and this was (originally) 'regulated 
by the ability of the cultivator to pay.' 

On such general principles, it is not surprising that the 
Muhamniadan rulers exercised considerable latitude in 
assessing their revenue ; and that no particle of evidence can 
be adduced for the proposition that by ' law and constitu- 
tion ' of India, Akbar's Settlement, or any other, constituted 
a standard to which every one could appeal, and beyond 
which he could not lawfully be enhanced. As a matter of 
fact, in the best days of Mughal rule, moderation and con- 
trol over collecting officers were duly observed ; but no 
ruler ever dreamt that he might not from time to time (as 
he chose there was no other principle) revise the assess- 
ment. Good rulers did so by a formal measurement and 
moderate additions. Indifferent rulers did so by the easier 
expedient of merely adding on ' cesses ' (known in revenue 
language as ' hubub' and 'abwdb'). Bad rulers simply 
bargained with farmers for fixed sums, thus both compelling 
and encouraging the farmer to raise the assessment on the 
cultivators, or, in other words, delegating to the farmer the 
proper functions of the State officer in revising assess- 

How the revenue-farmer exercised this power we shall 
see in the history of Bengal ; it was the origin, of course, of 
his right of enhancing (what became) the rent. When the 
raiyats ceased to be dealt with direct by the State officers, 
they were, in effect, handed over to the Zamindar, who in 
time became ' the landlord/ and they his ' tenants.' 

Before the Mughal times, we find 'Ala-ud-din (A.D. 1294- 
1315) imposing a half produce tax, or khirdj 1 . But the 

1 See Briggs* FerisMa, vol. i. 347. grant of Government, pays no land- 
The reader will notice that this revenue, or of which the revenues 
term, though not now used for are assigned to a grantee. The 
the land-revenue, has entered into ' land-revenue ' as an amount as- 
common use in the official term sessed is jama' = total ; as a pay- 
' lakhiraj,' i. e. land which, by the ment it is spoken of as ' mdl,' or in 


practically useful history of land-revenue begins with the 
reign of Akbar. 

Before, however, I speak of the Akbarian Settlement, of 
which the central feature was the commutation of the grain- 
share into a money payment, let me introduce to the reader 
the method of grain-division as it used to be employed, and 
as it is still locally employed, either between the native 
Baja and his subjects, or between landlord and tenant, as 
in Bihar, the Panjab, and other localities. 

3. Practice of Grain-division. 

The earliest form of grain-division is the deposit of the 
grain in heaps on the threshing-floors and measuring it 
out with certain measures, which varied with the custom 
of the place. How complicated such a measurement can 
be made, and what varied forms of fraud can be practised 
on either side, it is not easy to realize. In the chapter on 
SINDH, I have made allusion to the elaborate practice 
followed in former days in some of the districts there ; and 
in various other provincial sections I have given accounts 
of the curious local practices of division. Here I only give 
a general idea of the commonest forms, which were (i) 
actual division ; (2) estimating the standing crop and de- 
claring a certain number of ' maunds ' to be the king's 

In order to save the trouble of dividing, sometimes and 
this was perhaps a step towards dissolution of the system 
a method of estimation would be allowed ; a practised eye 
looked at a field, and judged, ' The reaping of such a field 
will give so many maunds of grain, of which so many go 
to the king ' ; and the officers took that amount of grain, 
whether more or less than was actually harvested. 

I will ask the student to remember the vernacular terms : 
' bhaoli ' (or ' batai ') by itself or in compound, is applied to 

some provinces 'mu'amla.' (In the versal and the only one under- 
Panjab this use of the term is uni- stood.) 


actual grain-division : ' kankut ' (or kan) is applied to the 

4. In Rdjput States. 

Colonel Tod thus speaks of the grain-share collection in 
Rajput States 1 : 

'There are two methods of levying the revenues of the 
Crown on every description of corn "kankut " and "batai" : 
for, on sugarcane, poppy, hemp, tobacco, cotton 2 , indigo, and 
garden produce, a money payment is fixed, varying from rupees 
two to six per bighd. The kankut is a conjectural estimate of the 
standing crop by the united judgment of the officers of Govern- 
ment the patel (village headman\ pattvdri and the owner of 
the field. The accuracy with which an accustomed eye will 
determine the quantity of grain on a given surface is surprising, 
and should the owner deem the estimate overrated, he can 
insist on batai or division of the corn after it is threshed. . . . 
In the batai system the share of the Government is from one- 
third to two-fifths of the spring harvest 3 , as wheat and barley ; 
and sometimes even half, which is the invariable proportion of 
the autumnal crops. The " kankiit" is the most liable to cor- 
ruption. The cultivator bribes the collector, who will under- 
rate the crop ; and when he betrays his duty the " watchman" 
(one of the village establishment) is not likely to be honest : 
and as Indian corn, the grand autumnal crop of Mewar (Udaipur 
State), is eaten green, the Crown may be defrauded of half its 
dues. . . . There was a "barar" or tax introduced to make up 
the deficiency, which was in no proportion to the quantity 
cultivated, and its amount was at the mercy of the officers.' 

5. A Modern Native State. 

The following is another picture of ' batai ' from one of 
the ' tappas ' or groups of villages called Khairoda. in the 
Mewar (Udaipur) State 4 : ' Of the first crop, consisting of 

1 Tod, i. 431. 3 There are in most parts two 

2 Cotton in some places was harvests (see Chap. i. pp. 12-13). 
shared in kind. In Chittagong The spring crop is in Mewar called 
certain of the remoter hill estates ' unalu,' and the autumn crop ' si- 
used to pay their revenue in cotton, yalu ' ; ' un ' = heat, ' si ' = cold ; re- 
and gave rise to the ' Kapas mahal,' ferring to summer and winter 
or estate in the accounts, which paid harvest time. 

in cotton. 4 Tod, vol. ii. 547. 


wheat, barley, and gram, the produce is formed into heaps 
of one hundred maunds each ; these are subdivided into 
four parts of twenty-five maunds each. The first operation 
is to provide from one of these the " sirano " or seer on each 
maund, to each individual of the village establishment, viz. 
the pdtel, or headman ; the pativdri, or accountant ; the 
shdna, or watchman (guardian of crops) ; the buldi, or 
messenger and general herdsman ; the hdtM (alias satar), 
or carpenter ; the I6hdr, or blacksmith ; the kumhdr, or 
potter ; the dhobi, or washerman ; the chamdr, who is 
shoemaker, currier, and scavenger ; and the ndi, or barber- 
surgeon. These ten "siranos," being one seer on each heap 
or two and a-half maunds to each individual, swallow up 
one of the subdivisions. Of the three remaining parts, one 
share (twenty-five maunds) go to the Raj or State, two to 
the cultivator, after deducting a "sirano" for the heir- 
apparent, which is termed "Kunwar-mutka" (the prince's 
pot).' An innovation of late years has been practised on 
the portion (two heaps) belonging to the village, by which 
no less than three maunds are deducted nominally for the 
prince, the Raja's chief groom, and his grain- steward ; so 
that the Government share in total becomes three-tenths 
instead of one-fourth. The autumn crop is also divided by 
heaps : out of every one hundred maunds, forty go to the 
Government and sixty to the village 1 . 

1 I cannot forbear making one skilful makers can be found, is the 

other extract describing batdi in one most simple and expeditious method, 

of the old Sikh estates. I found but requiring great Fidelity, Ex- 

among the records of the Ambala perience, and Judgment in the 

Commissioner's office a report on a "kunneea" or appraiser, who should 

lapsed estate of Sirdarni Daya Kuii- be chosen from among the oldest 

war, dated 23rd May, 1824. It con- Zumeendars, and over whom the 

tains the following curious passage Tuhseeldar should keep a vigilant 

(which I transcribe exactly capi- and circumspect Eye. In the case 

tals and all) : of a cultivator being dissatisfied 

' The Native system of making with the appraisement of his field 

the collections may be termed three- by the kunneea, an instant recourse 

fold ; the kun (kan) [also called should be had to the Practice of 

"kankut" and "tip"], bataee ^atail beating out a Beega or a Biswa of 

and tushkhees (tashkhis), all of the grain on the disputed Field, 

which had at different periods been and thereby ascertain the exact 

adopted by the officers of the late quantity to the satisfaction of both 

Sirdarnee. The kun or appraise- parties. It is obvious that a con- 

ment [of crop before cutting], if stant appeal to this principle ought 


6. Mardthd System. 

In the Mar&tha States the financiers had already replaced 
batdi by money-rates. Sir J. Malcolm l writes : ' The 
mode of realizing the revenue varied little as far as it 
related to the collections of the cultivators. Batdi or pay- 
ment in kind is very unusual ; except with the Rajput 
principalities, almost all the subjects in the Maratha States 
pay in money. The basis on which Settlements were gene- 
rally founded was a measurement of the kharif or first 
crop 2 when it is cut down, and the rabi or second crop, 
when it is about half a foot high, and is renewed every 
third year. This measurement 3 is made with a coarse 
rope divided into yards.' In a note the author mentions 
that in Nimar no measurement had taken place since the 
Muhammadan rule, and that the people regarded re-mea- 
surement as an innovation, desiring to be held to what was 
in the kanungo's books. 

A village Settlement had to be made for each harvest 
with the headman, unless the village was farmed or rented. 
The regular assessment was said to be moderate, and was 
intended to amount to the money equivalent of twenty-five 
to forty per cent, of the produce after deduction of seed 

to be avoided as tedious and vex- Zumeendars, who are tempted to 
atious, and it is seldom that the remove portions of grain during the 
cultivator calls for its application, night season. Could these and 
still less does the kunneea like to similar Difficulties be surmounted, 
put his judgment to the Test. no mode offers such a show of jus- 
' The butaee or division of grain tice to the Government and its sub- 
on the spot seemed to present many jects as dividing the Gifts of nature 
objections. Three Heaps are made : on the spot. 

one for the Sarkar (the Govern- ' The tushkees, or farm of an es- 

ment), one for the Ryot, and the tate to the highest bidder, distresses 

third for the Khurch, or village ex- the cultivator, however pleasing 

penses ; so that the Government the lucrative receipts may appear 

receives only about one-third of the for the first few years of the 

produce, which has led to the lease ' 

phrase " bataee lootaee " or Division 1 Vol. ii. p. 24. 

is plunder. The grain has to re- a I. e. counting the year as begin- 

main in the field for a length of ning before the rains, which is the 

time, exposed to the Elements, ere plan of the fasli or agricultural year, 
it can be trodden out and winnowed, 3 In Central India they used the 

added to the expense of persons to Akbari measure of one bigha = a 

watch the khulwara (khalwara) or square of 60 gaz or yards, which 

stacks from the spoliation of the will be explained further on. 


and costs 1 . The moderation, however, was deprived of its 
advantage by the additional charge of ' tafrik ' or contin- 

The system of management adopted by the Marathas was 
not, however, uniform ; in outlying tracts they farmed 
their revenues and did it cruelly ; in other places they 
made no arrangement at all, but levied a 'chauth,' or 
fourth, as tribute. The Maratha 'chauth' in Bengal be- 
came historic. 

In the Settlement report of the large Dholka taluka, or 
local division of the Ahmadabad Collectorate of Bombay, 
I find the most curious account of the old assessments. 
Whether this was altogether due to the Marathas or to the 
chiefs (called taluqdars), remains of the Muhammadan 
kingdoms in the Guzarat province, I do not know ; but the 
assessment consisted sometimes of a grain-division (bhag- 
watai), and sometimes of a cash assessment by area (always 
called bighoti rate on the bigha). This varied with each 
crop, and was levied on all sugar-cane, garden produce, 
and vegetables. Then, besides that, there was a whole 
series of ' babti,' which is merely an old friend, the Bengal 
' cess ' (abwab) under a new name. Yet most of the assess- 
ment was levied on the basis or foundation of the moderate 
and recorded rates of the Settlement effected by the Mu- 
hammadan kings. The latter was called the 'ain (the 
'thing itself) ; and when the Marathas had levelled up the 
village 'ain to what they considered as much as could be 
got, they called it the ' kamal ' or ' perfect ' assessment. 

7. Certain Crops always paid in Cash. Zabti. 

In concluding this notice, I ought to allude to a fact 
which perhaps suggested, certainly facilitated, the change 
from a grain to a money -p&ymeni. When vegetables, 
sugar-cane, spices, and similar crops, not forgetting cotton, 
are largely cultivated, it is very difficult to divide them in 

1 Irrigated land for opium and high ; the black soil was assessed 
sugar-cane was rented at R. 5 to zoa at R. i to 1-8. 
bigha, and garden land nearly as 

VOL. I. T 


kind ; the process takes too long and the produce is spoiled, 
or the determination of a yield, when the whole crop is not 
taken off the soil at once, becomes impossible. At a very 
early date such crops paid at customary rates in cash ; and 
when in later times all crops paid in cash, these more 
valuable kinds of produce were charged at a higher rate. 
In revenue language they were called ' zabti ' crops, and 
paid at ' zabti ' rates l . 


The first beginning of the change from a mere levy of 
a share of the grain to a regularly-assessed land-revenue, 
may fairly be traced to the Emperor Akbar's Settlement, 
begun in 1571 A.D. There had been some earlier attempts, 
but they were not systematic, nor have the details come 
down to us. There was another great Settlement at a later 
date carried out by the Muhammadan kings of the Dakhan, 
but that was almost wholly a copy of Akbar's Settlement. 
The astute emperor employed a distinguished Hindu Raja, 
Todar Mai 2 , to do the work conjointly with a Muham- 
madan official. It should be remarked that this Settlement 
did not at once enforce the method of cash payment ; it left 
it optional with the raiyat to pay the old grain-share if he 
objected to the commutation price. Abul Fazl, in the 
Ayin-i-Akbari, describes the methods of grain-division as 
above detailed, showing that the methods have never varied 
in principle. He mentions the ' kankut/ or estimate of 
crops while standing ; the ' bhaoli ' or ' batai ' being the 
actual division of the grain on the threshing-floors. And 
he adds another method called 'khetbatai/ or taking a 
certain measured area of the standing crop of each field, the 

1 Zabt (A.) means ' sequestered,' in Todar being the palatal, it is 
set aside ; hence special or excep- sounded something like r ; hence 
tional. the name appears as Torun Mall, 

2 This name is found variously Toren Mull, Tooral Mai, and Tury- 
tortured in the older books : the d mal (in the Fifth Report). 


yield of which is assumed to represent the share of the 
whole holding ; and one called ' lang-batai,' whereby the 
cultivator piles the grain into as many heaps as there are 
shares, and the Government officer takes the heap that 
pleases him. 

i. Akbar's Settlement under Rdjd Todar Mai. 

In 1571 A.D. the survey was commenced ; a standard, the 
' ilahi ' gaz, or yard-rod, was fixed, and a ' tanab ' or chain 1 . 
The Settlement extended to Bengal in 1582. The classi- 
fication of land adopted was into ( i ) ' pulaj ' 2 (or ' pulej '), 
which was land that was continually cultivated and did not 
require fallow; (2) 'phirawati,' or rotation land that re- 
quired a periodical fallow ; (3) ' chichar,' that lay fallow for 
three or four years, or rather that, being inundated or 
otherwise bad, could only be occasionally depended on for 
a crop ; and (4) ' banjar,' waste that had not been cultivated 
for five or more years. The first three kinds were again 
classed into ' best,' ' middling,' and ' worst.' 

The share of Government was one-third of the produce ; 
and to ascertain an average, a bigha of each kind was taken 
as a sample, and one-third of the aggregate produce was con- 
sidered to be the average bigha produce. One-third of this 
gave the Government share. Tables are to be found in the 
Ayin-i-Akbari showing the averge yield for various crops 
grown at each harvest 3 . Garden crops and pan (the aromatic 
betel-leaf used for chewing) were charged at certain money - 

1 The gaz was 41 fingers or 33 saries. I suspect it is a corruption 
inches long; a square of 60 such of the Persian 'palez' garden-land, 
yards (a ' jarib ' each way) gives one land that grows melons, &c. 
bigha. The standard bigha of the 3 See Briggs, p. 126 ; and Field, 
Upper Provinces is then 3,025 Eiig- p. 433. The names of the crops in 
lish square yards (five-eighths of an both are so misspelt as to be un- 
acre). In Bengal it is i, 600 square recognizable; e.g. adess = 'adas, the 
yards, or about one-third of an Arabic for masur or lentils ; shaly 
acre. In other places it is various. mushkeen is the Persian Sltdl-i-mush- 
We have still some means of testing kin, or scented rice, one of the best 
the figures by the mindr or 'mile kinds (bansmatti) ; motmg = mung is 
posts,' which are still standing a pulse (Phaseolus mungo) ; lubyeh is, 
few of them a long the old imperial perhaps ' lobiya ' (beans). What 
road from Delhi. ' tyndus' ' kelet,' ' berty,' and 'kawdcy' 

2 This word is not in the glos- are, I cannot even guess. 

T 2 


rates. For grain crops, the prices of nineteen years (from the 
sixth to the twenty -fourth of Akbar's reign), were collected 
by inquiry. This period was selected because nineteen 
years being a cycle of the moon, the seasons were supposed 
in this time to undergo a complete revolution, and so to 
exhibit all varieties of quantity. Mr. Elphinstone observes 
that the Ayin-i-Akbari gives no information as to how the 
comparative fertility of fields was ascertained, though it is 
probable that the three classes formed for each of the better 
soils were applied in consultation with the cultivators. 
There must, however, have been great inequality : for in- 
stance, if a man's holding were all of the ' worst ' kind of 
pulaj, in that case the average rate ascertained as above 
described, would be too high. 

The revenue on phirdwati land was calculated in the 
same way, but it was not charged in fallow years. Chichar 
was allowed to be paid for in grain or kind according to its 
yield; probably the actual crop was looked to. Banjar 
was distinguished by progressive rates. In itself, waste or 
long-fallowed land might be of any class, and when brought 
under cultivation, it was allowed to pay only a sir or two 1 
in kind for the first year, four sirs for the second, and so on 
till the full rate of the land, according to quality, was attained. 

It was Mr. Elphinstone's opinion that the commutation 
rates above spoken of were maximum rates ; and indeed 
this is probable, for they would have been both high and 
unequal ; and there are other indications that besides the 
option the cultivator had of tendering grain, there was also 
the practice of allowing him to offer the money value of the 
grain at the time. 

2. Akbars Revised Settlement. 

But however this may be, some practical difficulty cer- 
tainly arose, for after this, a new ten years' money Settle- 
ment was made 2 . 

1 See note at p. 242, explaining * See the passage from the Ayin-i- 

the man, or ' maund ' and its sub- Aklari quoted in Field, p. 437. 


The rates of actual collection from the fifteenth year of 
the reign to the twenty-fourth (inclusive) were written 
down, and a tenth part of the total was accepted as the 
revenue for the next ten years. 

3. Akbar's Settlement not permanent. The Native 
Custom always contemplated variation. 

It is true that such was the fame of this last assessment, 
that the rates of it were often appealed to as a sort of 
standard ; but in view of the frequent references in Au- 
rangzeb's and other reigns, to other rates of collection, and 
to orders restraining the collectors from taking more than 
one-half the produce, it is clear that it can never have been 
regarded by the authorities as unalterable. 

Besides this, it is a matter of fact that reassessments 
were made from time to time. Mr. James Grant expressly 
insists that when the ' standard ' assessment was referred 
to (called 'Asl tumar jama' i. e. the land-revenue proper, 
without cesses or imposts) it was not Akbar's that was 
meant, but the last authoritative recorded assessment 1 . As 
I have already remarked, it is impossible to assert that, 
either by law or custom, the king or emperor was prohibited 
from reassessing or raising his revenue periodically 2 . The 
old law-books do not deal with the subject, because they 
belong to a stage when a share in the produce was taken. 

1 In his 'Analysis of the Finances or as circumstances suggested, 
of Bengal,' one of the appendices to When, therefore, Government 
the Fifth Report. See (for instance) ceased to deal with the cultivators 
p. 236, vol. i. of the Madras Reprint. and made a fixed contract with 

2 I repeat this, because on the 'Zamindars' over them, it did not 
fact depends a great deal of the follow that the people had any claim 
controversy about rent under that their payments should never be 
the permanent Settlement. The reassessed : Government might have 
'tenants' of the 'landlords' were made such a declaration, but it 
the people who had been the cul- never did. The grievous defect was 
tivators or de facto proprietors of the this, that the Government never 
holdings on which Akbar's assess- devised any rule by which the re- 
ment was fixed. Had no proprietors vision and enhancement of what 
been created by law over them, they had now become rent, could be regu- 
would have submitted to reassess- lated, as it would have been, sup- 
ment, say after ten or fifteen or posing it had remained as revenue 
thirty years, according to the will under the direct orders of a good 
of the governor, as prices altered. and considerate ruler. 

f VOL. I. 


Even the share varied according to State necessities ; but 
putting that aside, it is in itself an increasing quantity, 
(i) because values rise; and (2) as more and more land is 
under the plough, the total of the king's share becomes 

4. Disadvantages of the Grain-division. 

The disadvantages of a grain-assessment are manifold. 
In the long run they outweigh the convenience which causes 
such methods to be still adopted in some places. They may 
be admitted to have some virtue in their application to 
precarious soils and climates, where it is impossible to cal- 
culate what the produce or its equivalent will be for even 
a short term of years. A payment in kind may here avoid 
the technical difficulties of a fluctuating cash-assessment. 

But in fairly well developed districts, where irrigation 
secures the crops to a considerable extent, a grain collection 
becomes intolerable, and there is nothing to recommend 
it. It is a source of never-ending dispute : it is extremely 
troublesome for the State officer to manage. It affords 
the maximum of opportunity to the cultivator to pilfer and 
conceal on the one side, and to the officials and their satel- 
lites to peculate and extort, on the other. Moreover, when 
grain markets are well established, and values rise, the one 
party or the other suffers ; a very slight accident may, 
in reality, double the assessment. The actual history of 
districts has shown that gradually, by the action of the 
people themselves, grain rates invariably, if slowly, give 
way to cash rates. 

5. Causes of a change to Cash-payments. 

The change took place gradually, and was some- 
times concealed by a fiction ; as e. g. in the case of 
the 'Khot' villages on the West Coast, where the 
assessment was nominally in grain but was levied in 
cash by means of an artificial valuation. But in general 
the change forced itself on the notice of atlministra- 


tors directly the increase of population and the subdivision 
of farms made it impossible for the full grain-share of the 
State to be collected. Supposing that a farm of eighteen 
acres yields ten maunds of grain per acre. Let us as- 
sume that the cultivator needs one-third of this for his 
subsistence, that the king takes one-third, and that the 
remaining third covers the costs of cultivation and profits 
of stock. The king thus gets sixty maunds. But in time 
the farm is subdivided among an increased number of 
heirs of the original holder. The individual holding now 
becomes (say) six acres. The subdivision will doubtless 
promote increased care in tillage, and probably im- 
proved irrigation. Suppose these improvements double the 
produce. The total produce of the holding is still only 
one hundred and twenty maunds, and the king's share is 
forty maunds : possibly the proportions can be maintained, 
as prices will have risen, and the shares, though diminished 
in amount, will have become of greater money value. But 
there is a limit to this ; for the rate of production will not 
go on increasing in the same proportion as the holdings 
diminish by subdivision. As the share required for the 
subsistence of the cultivator will not materially lessen, the 
king's share cannot be paid at the same rate. But the 
king does not like to diminish his share ostensibly, and the 
expedient which conceals the fact, is to take a sum of 
money instead. This will probably be calculated at some 
rate per plough, or so much for each holding on an average 
of what has been paid for a given period of years. The 
idea of acreage valuation, according to different relative 
productiveness, or the idea of competition rents, are alike 
unfamiliar, and among the people themselves are still im- 
perfectly understood in many districts. 

When at last a settled Government, with ideas of law 
and order, begins, it becomes necessary to devise some 
means of passing from arbitrary and unequal rates to an 
assessment that shall be on some definite principle just 
to the land-holder, while giving a full revenue to the State. 


6. Need of periodical Revision. 

But the moment money assessments are established, then, 
as soon as there is a change in the value of produce, or in 
the value of money itself, as coined money becomes more 
plentiful, or, owing to improved communications, or to other 
causes, the assessments become locally so unequal that 
revision is called for on this ground alone. Again ; every 
government not excluding the best Oriental governments 
regards the development of districts as one of its first 
duties ; and the moment canals, railways, tanks, wells, 
agricultural-loans and the like, come under consideration, 
it is obvious that Government is entitled both to raise the 
means of expending capital on such works, and to reap its 
share of the largely increased amount and value of the 
produce obtained. 

7. Reflections on the state of the Revenue-System to 
which the British Government succeeded. 

When, in 1765, British government began in Bengal, a 
land-revenue assessed in money was, and long had been, 
the principal source of the State's wealth. 

It is quite immaterial to discuss whether such a system 
is good or bad in theory, because any such discussion would 
be based on European, not on Oriental ideas. 

In the same way, in the last chapter (see Sec. vi, on Pro- 
perty) I deprecated the argument as to whether we should 
call our land-revenue a ' land-tax ' or not. I know of no idler 
and less interesting war of words than such an argument, 
at least under existing conditions, when rights in land have 
been well established. 

An Oriental institution is what it has grown to be, by 
the effect of custom and the wear and tear of historical 
events. To take it up, turn it round, and force it into the 
mould of any European definition or theory of taxation, is 
impossible 1 . The land-revenue is everywhere acquiesced 

1 Kaye, p. 141, has some excellent English taxation and Indian. In 
remarks on the difference between England we are always being taxed 


in by the people, and paid without demur; it has the 
advantage of an immemorial prescription, which in the East 
is a matter of first-rate importance ; and it is quite certain 
that no other means of raising an equal revenue could be 
devised, which would work with equally little trouble and 
interference with the people. The whole land-revenue ma- 
chinery works as smoothly as possible even the difficulties 
of such districts as Chittagong or Sylhet, in Eastern Bengal 
and Assam, are mere local problems which are approaching 
solution. Almost the only grave objection that could be 
raised to the system is the cost of, as well as the harass- 
ment of the people involved in. the work of a ' Settlement,' 
with its survey and record of the rights of landholders 
and tenants. But this our modern systems have tended 
greatly to reduce ; and it is probable that before another 
thirty years have passed, the operation of revising the 
revenue will be a matter which will be carried out with 
hardly a perceptible ruffle of the quiet course of district 
and agricultural business. 



We have now seen how a system of a land-revenue paid 
in money was ready made to the hands of our first ad- 
ministrators. Our laws have always avoided any theory 
on the subject of the origin of the right of the State, and 
the earliest Regulations of 1793 contented themselves with 
asserting just so much (and no more) as would serve as a 
sufficient basis for the system when reduced to shape, 
namely, that ' by ancient law (custom would have been 

and untaxed. The Minister of Fi- tical economical theories, but ac- 
nance has his budget proposals, and cording as the people take kindly to 
the reduction of one tax or the im- it and it can be realized without 
position of a new one is a perpetual inquisition, without pressing hardly 
subject for discussion all over the and unequally on certain classes. 
country. As a result of it, ministers It is found better to trust to what 
may fall. But in India everything people have long been accustomed 
goes by custom ; a tax is good or to, than to devise new plans how- 
bad, not so much according to poli- ever theoretically perfect. 


better) the Government was entitled to a share in the pro- 
duce of every bigha of land, that share to be fixed by 
itself 1 .' As a necessary corollary, it has always held 
that the revenue is a first charge on the estate, to which 
all other charges must give way ; and that, in effect, the 
land is hypothecated for the revenue assessment on it. 

I have already explained that Government makes no 
claim to be the immediate or exclusive proprietor 2 of all 
lands ; but it reserves to itself the ultimate ownership in 
default of any other owner, as, for instance, in unoccupied 
waste lands, as in the case of escheat or forfeiture for 
crime. To secure its own revenue, which (as just stated) 
is a first charge on all land, it holds all land as hypothe- 
cated to itself for the amount of the revenue, and conse- 
quently it reserves the right to sell the land (under 
whatever conditions it may enact by law) if the revenue 
falls into arrear. 

In order to protect its subjects, it also reserves the power 
to declare and to adjust the rights of all classes of rights 
and interests in the soil, and in some cases to divide 
the benefits of landed right, equitably between different 

It was the misfortune of our early administrators that 
they succeeded to Akbar's revenue system, not developed 
as it might have been by the practical wisdom of Oriental 
financiers, but as one which represented only a state of 
misrule and corruption. A thoroughly-developed native 
system might have been difficult to define or explain in 
a statute, but it would have been easily workable. 

As it was, the administration had fallen into confusion 
beyond hope of remedy. Some theory or practice of 
revising the assessments, some customary period for such 
revisions, might have been expected, but none such was 
left us. We know that in Bengal reassessment had taken 

1 See preamble to Bengal Eegula- see the Bombay Revenue Code, (B.) 

tions XIX and XXXVII of 1793. Act V of 1879, Section 45. 

The same phrase has been adopted 2 Chap. IV. Sec. vi. p. 239. 
in the modern Acts ; for instance, 


place from time to time T . But the only principle that 
had settled down into continuance, was the hateful expe- 
dient of adding cesses or 'abwab' to what was called 
the ' 'asl tumar ' or standard sum still borne on the books 
as representing the last measurement and assessment. 
And the practice fell to a lower depth still ; the State 
gave up all control, and merely bargained with local and 
influential men in certain tracts of country, for the largest 
sum they could reasonably expect to realize, and left them 
to get out of the people what they could. In such a state 
of things, our first officers did not well know what to 
do. They were not able to make a survey before Settle- 
ment : general inquiries had been carried out, but the 
machinery was too sparse and imperfect to enable the 
right sort of information to be gained. The reason of this 
remains to be stated. 

The Zamindars, who had gradually, since the beginning 
of the eighteenth century, been allowed to contract for the 
revenue of large areas of country, were the only really well 
established revenue machinery which remained in exist- 
ence. A century's growth had given them such a hold, 
that they had not only become virtually landlords, so 
that to ignore them would have been unjust from the 
point of view of private interest in the estate, but from the 
revenue point of view, their aid was indispensable. For, if 
they were not to be trusted to for the revenue, who was ? 
The reader will be inclined to answer ' Why, the village 
cultivators, through their own headmen people who were 
the real bread-winners and proprietors of the soil on which 
they had resided for generations, and which their fore- 
fathers had either conquered or colonized out of the track- 
less jungle.' This is very easy, and even obvious, to say 
now, with reference to modern conditions ; it was not so in 
1789. There was no local machinery to do such a work. 
Even if a complete district staff, with well-trained native 
subordinates, in subdivisions and parganas, had existed, 
even they could have only succeeded by making out 

1 For some details, soo Fii-M, p. 441. 


village records afresh. For it must never be forgotten 
that the direct consequence of the growth of the Zaminddr 
was twofold. One consequence was the existence of a 
certain interest in the estates which demanded a special 
treatment at the hands of our administrators ; but a still 
more important consequence was the gradual annihilation 
of the district control, and the atrophy of the official 
charges, which has above been described. The Zamindar 
not only relieved the kamingos and patwaris of all re- 
sponsibility to the State, making them therefore careless 
about keeping up their records and accounts ; but, more 
than that, when the Zamindar was only liable, as in later 
times, to answer for his contract sum, and not for the 
details of his village and pargana collections, it became 
positively distasteful to him to have details of authorized 
rents and rights of raiyats entered in village records : the 
kanungo, then, got no information ; and the village pat- 
waris were made merely to keep just such accounts as the 
Zamindar wanted for his own purposes. In a word, the 
kanungo became an official shadow, and the patwaris the 
bond-slaves of the Zamindars. 

The few ' Collectors' 0^1789, and their supervising 
Committees of Revenue, therefore, could not have thought 
of going to the villages as we now should. 

i. Attempt at farming the Revenues. 

They did indeed try for several years an experiment which 
proved a failure. They had heard of the oppression of the 
' Zamindars,' and they thought that, if they made indepen- 
dent contracts with special farmers, these would be more 
amenable to restraint. The process was tried with ever- 
increasing trouble and disappointment from 1770 up till 
the date when Lord Cornwallis came out in 1786. And 
then a system was adopted which restored the Zaminda'rs, 
but gave them a new position, which it was expected 
would remedy all defects. 

In the chapter on Bengal I shall fully explain that the 


system which Lord Cornwallis introduced as the celebrated 
' Permanent Settlement,' was emphatically not any new 
idea of his own. It was elaborated by Mr. Shore 1 and the 
ablest Civil servants, in communication with the Court of 
Directors at home, as the documents in the celebrated 
Fifth Report on the Affairs of the East India Company to 
the House of Commons will abundantly testify. 

2. Outline of Lord Cornwallis s System. 

In effect that system recognized that the revenues must 
be collected by means of local men of influence and 
wealth, who took charge of considerable estates, larger 
or smaller, according to circumstances ; and that, in order 
to give these persons confidence, they must be endowed 
formally with such an interest as made them legally and 
in name, what most of them were de facto, ' proprietors ' 
or ' landlords.' The king's subjects, or ' raiyats,' then be- 
came the tenants of the new landlords. It was well 
understood that they were not ordinary tenants, in the 
sense that they were persons located by the Zamindar on 
contract or lease. Some of them, of course, would be so 
as, for example, when the landlord began to break up the 
waste and to form new colonies of cultivators ; but others 
the majority would be the original and hereditary 
possessors of the village soil. It was intended to protect 
their rights, as we shall see ; but unfortunately the inten- 
tion was not practically carried out. The benefit to the 
landlord was secured ; that intended for the tenant was 
not. As far as the revenue is concerned, the main feature 
of the system was the plan of fixing in perpetuity the sum 
to be paid annually for each estate. The details of that 
proposal I shall describe in the chapter devoted to Bengal; 
here it is enough to say that our first revenue system 
in Bengal involved (i) the acknowledgment, as landlords, 

1 Mr. Shore did not advocate, but he agreed with the others in se- 

strongly opposed, the particular curing the position of the Zamin- 

feature of the Settlement which dars. 
caused it to be ' permanent.' But 


of persons found in actual charge of large areas of land, 
and (2) an assessment of such reasonable sum as could be 
discovered by comparing the accounts of actual payments 
in previous years; the sum so fixed being declared un- 
alterable for ever. 


i. Special features of the Settlement. 

About this PERMANENT (Zamindari) Settlement, there are 
three things to be observed. 

I. The system involved the presumption that for every 
local estate or group of lands there must be some person 
with whom Government should settle, or (in official phrase) 
who should ' hold the Settlement ' ; and further, that this 
person, or middleman between the raiyat and the State, 
should be vested with a proprietary interest in the land. 
The benefits and obligations in such an arrangement or 
contract were to be reciprocal. The Government was to 
have some one who was to be looked to as responsible, in 
person and estate, for punctual payment ; the person was 
to be given the means of discharging his responsibility by 
having a secure title to the land for which he engaged. He 
was to be irremoveable (otherwise than temporarily, in 
the event of his not agreeing to the terms offered). He 
was to be at liberty to raise money on the credit of the 
land, to sell or gift it, or pass it on to his children by 
inheritance or bequest, as the case might be. In other 
words, he was to be declared and legally installed as pro- 
prietor or landlord. 

This principle has always been followed, either in set 
terms or in some equivalent shape, in all Settlement 

In all systems which deal with a landlord, the middle- 
man may be an actual person or an ideal person a body 
or a community considered as one legal person, by means 


of a representative (as in the North- Western Settlements). 
In other systems, where there is no middleman, actual or 
ideal, the cultivator is directly settled with. In the former 
case, under whatever necessary limitations, the Zamindar, 
the Taluqdar, or joint body of village co-sharers, is ' owner' 
or ' proprietor.' To say that a man is ' proprietor,' and 
that he is the ' malguzar ' or revenue-payer, are, in our 
official literature, practically synonymous ; to say that 
a man pays four annas of the revenue, means also that 
he is owner of one-fourth of the estate, fractions being 
commonly stated in so many ' annas \ (sixteenths) of the 
'rupee' (taken as the total). And even in Madras and 
Bombay, where (as explained in Chapter IV) no landlord 
body had grown up over the village cultivators, so that 
they could not be regarded as a jointly responsible pro- 
prietary of the whole, the individual occupants were 
nevertheless vested by law with a definite, transferable, 
and heritable right, subject to the revenue demand : and 
this, for most practical purposes, is undistinguishable from 
a proprietary title 1 . 

II. Another thing to be observed in the Bengal Settle- 
ment is, that the amount of revenue to be paid by the 
Zamindar being once ascertained, that amount was fixed 
for ever under the law of 1793. Hence this first experi- 
ment in Settlements is called the PEEMANENT SETTLEMENT. 

III. The amount was determined, not with reference to 
any area-survey, any consideration, that is, of the number, 
various fertility, or productive power, of the acres held in 
each case, or of the influence of proximity to market and 
facility of communication, on the value of produce. Local 
scrutiny, as we shall see, was directly forbidden to the 
Collectors ; they were directed to make the best estimate 
they could, of a fair lump sum for the whole estate, on a 
consideration of what sums had been paid in the past, and 
of the general prosperity of the owners. 

1 For remarks on the occupancy tenure defined by statute, but is 

rights in Bombay, see the chapter practically settled by judicial de- 

on Land-Tenures in Bombay. The cision to be proprietor of his holding. 
Madras raiyat has not had his 


2. Remarks on the three features. 

These features demand some further remark, as having 
given rise to various and important results. 

The first feature in itself needs no comment, especially in 
view of our immediate subject. But indirectly, the ques- 
tion of 'proprietor' and his 'title' have given rise to all 
those difficult questions about grades of proprietary interest 
and privileges of tenant-right, which have been such a 
source of controversy in India. An outline of the subject 
was presented in Chap. IV. Sec. iv. p. 196. 

3. The second feature. 

This feature the permanency of the assessment has 
had a great influence. For a long time, and under other 
methods of Settlement, which we shall have to discuss, 
people thought that as soon as a fairly good method was 
elaborated, the resulting assessment might be declared 
fixed and unalterable. After the first Settlements of the 
North -West Provinces, for example, a great discussion 
arose, and was continued for some years ; indeed, the 
question of a Permanent Settlement for all districts 
lingered on, till it received its quietus in a despatch of 
the Secretary of State in 1882. The history of this ques- 
tion is important, but will not be understood till some 
description of the other Settlement systems has been given. 
I therefore defer its further mention for the present. 

4. Effects of Laws for the Realization of Revenue. 

But connected with this subject, though, perhaps, in- 
directly, is the law enacted for the realization of the 

While the Government had conferred valuable rights 
on the Zamindars, it required of them (what they had been 
little in the habit of rendering) a prompt and punctual 
payment of the fixed revenue amount. From the first it 


was notified that if the instalments ('kist,' or properly 
' qist ') were not paid at due date, the estate would be sold. 
Government would not imprison the person of the land- 
lord, nor take his private goods and chattels l ; that would 
be an indignity. As will appear more fully in the sequel, 
circumstances brought about a vast number of sales for 
arrears of revenue 2 during the first ten years. And as 
these sales introduced a purchaser who necessarily had 
a clear title, another bouleversement of the tenant relations 
resulted. This last is a question of tenures, and does not 
now concern us; but the subject of 'sale-law' is here 
mentioned, as it is a distinctive feature of the old Bengal 

5. Remarks on the third feature. 

The fact that the Permanent Settlement was made 
without any survey, and without any record of landed 
rights and interests, has proved more fraught with 
evil consequences than perhaps any other feature of the 
Settlement. It is difficult now to say what Lord Cornwall! s 
really thought when he prohibited any detailed scrutiny of 
the estates ; but his first object was to be liberal to the 
Zamindar, and to make him feel secure as to the intentions 
of the Government ; and to do this it seemed important 
to prohibit all minute inquisition into his affairs or rents, 
and to fix a lump assessment on general considerations. 
For the same reasons, it was impossible to harass him with 
conditions about his subordinate tenants and with vexa- 

1 The law is spoken of as the especially under the circumstances 
'Sunset law' The Deputy-Collector of the terrible famine of 1772, of 
would sit in his Treasury office on which such a graphic account is 
' Kist-day' the latest date for pay- given in Hunter's Annals of Rural 
ment of the revenue instalment Bengal. The country had not re- 
till he saw the sun go down. Then covered from it in 1789. But as 
he closed the doors. The man who cultivation extended, peace bore its 
rushed up with his bag of money fruits, and prices rose, the assess- 
after the door was shut, would be ment became lighter and lighter ; 
too late. and sales of course became less 

1 The revenue, though per- frequent. At the present day it is 

manently fixed, was not at first extremely light, probably not more 

very light : it is admitted by good than one-third or even one-fourth 

judges to have been the reverse, of what it ought to be. 

VOL. I. U 


tious interference in his dealings with them. It was 
supposed that the newly-acknowledged landlord would 
extend cultivation, and thereby enlarge his own receipts ; 
that he would improve the class of crops grown ; and, as 
differential rates were always acknowledged for richer and 
poorer crops, it was vaguely supposed that rentals would 
rise in this way. Whatever the process, the landlord 
would certainly become rich ; on the other hand, he would 
employ and liberally pay, more and more labour ; every- 
where he would be known as the benevolent landlord of a 
contented tenantry ; he would abstain, under the strict 
orders of Government, from levying ' cesses ' in addition to 
the rents, which latter, it was supposed, would settle 
themselves by the good understanding of both parties ; he 
would always grant a ' patta ' (pottah) to his tenants, and 
so have it definitely on record what land they held, and 
what rent they were to pay. Lastly, as both classes grew 
rich, though the land-revenue would not alter, other 
revenues would increase ; for wealthy people demand more 
and more in the way of foreign imports and articles of 
luxury, and the custom-house would reap the benefit in 
the shape of duty. All these expectations have been 
rudely disappointed, with some rare exceptions ; the Za- 
mindars, as a class, did nothing for the tenants but rack- 
rent them, or hand them over to 'patnidars' or rent-farmers, 
who did so still more. They made no improvements ; and 
their wealth did not augment the general revenues by 
income from other sources of indirect taxation. All the 
while, the want of a survey (for revenue purposes) has been 
seriously felt. Agricultural statistics, which are available 
for other provinces, are wanting in Bengal. But even to 
enumerate the inconveniences, the difficulties under the 
tenant-law, and the endless litigation, that the absence of 
an authoritative record of subordinate rights may cause, 
would occupy more space than I can here give. In short, 
some day a district cadastral survey and a record of 
rights and rents must come; and the sooner it is com- 
menced, the better it will be for the province. 



i. Different conditions occur. 

But, whatever may have been thought of the 'method of 
assessing the revenue in Bengal, the continuance of that 
method in other provinces which came under British rule 
was rendered practically impossible by the totally different 
circumstances of those provinces. I would here invite the 
reader to refer to the coloured map, in which, by means of 
tints, each referring to a certain year or group of years, I 
have shown how the different districts and provinces gradu- 
ally were added to the East India Company's dominions. 

2. Madras. 

The first grant was that of the districts in the north 
of MADRAS, called the ' Northern Sirkars V In these 
districts there were local chiefs who had the management 
of the revenues, and were, in fact, Zamindars, like those in 
Bengal. But in other districts of Madras that fell to our 
lot as the result of escheats, and the wars with Mysore in 
1791 and 1799, there were no Zaminddrs. In some dis- 
tricts there were, indeed, chiefs called ' polygars ' (pale- 
gara). In origin, they were frontier chiefs relics of that 
Hindu organization which I have described. Under 
favourable circumstances, they would all have been recog- 
nized as Zamindars and landlords, and, indeed, some few of 
them were so recognized ; but the majority of them chose 
to resist and to rebel, and the ' polygar wars,' as the 
books call the military campaigns necessary to put them 
down, have added not a few stirring pages to the military 
history of Madras. 

1 Sirkar (or Circar as the popu- madan system already described, 
lar form is) was the Revenue p. 256. 
division or district of the Muham- 

U 2 


3. Permanent Settlement ordered. Its failure. 

By the time the Madras territories were fairly con- 
solidated, Lord Cornwallis's principles were in full force ; 
a Permanent Settlement was ordered and carried out 
(though with some improvements as to the 'tenant's' 
position) in North Madras, and in the case of certain peace- 
able ' polygars.' But how was it to be effected for Chingle- 
put, Salem, and Tanjore, and the ' Ceded Districts,' where 
there were no Zamindars ? The unhappy idea that occurred 
to the authorities was to create landlords, by making the 
villages into large groups or parcels, called inuttha (mootah 
of the old reports), and selling the Settlement rights to the 
highest bidder ! The real Zamindar, in his natural growth 
of a century and a half, was bad enough ; but what could 
be said for an auction-room landlord? Of course the 
system failed miserably. 

4. Commencement of a neiu method. 

Meanwhile, the Madras authorities were making a new 
departure. They had not civil servants enough to under- 
take all the district Settlements, and they determined to 
employ some of the ablest of their military servants, who 
had gained familiarity with the languages, localities, and 
people, in the course of their military duty. New men 
have new ideas ; and if these are only based on a real 
acquaintance with the people in their village homes, they 
are likely to be valuable. It is enough to name CAPTAIN 
MUNBO (afterwards Sir Thomas Munro, Governor of 
Madras) as among the ablest of these Settlement officers. 
In the Madras chapters I give all details, but here I may 
shortly mention that MUNEO developed, if he did not origin- 
ate, the idea of surveying the districts and dealing direct 
with the village landholders. 

To advocate and to defend this system, he wrote many 
able minutes, and conferred with the Court of Directors 
at home in 1807: the result was the authoritative adop- 


tion of the system known as the ' RAIYATWARI ' Set- 

5. Circumstances which led to the neiv system. 

The villages of the Madras districts were, as we have 
seen, mostly of the non-landlord, or raiyatwdri type. And 
even where high-caste families or colonizing adventurers 
had once established themselves as landlord communities, 
the results of later Hindu conquests, and of the Muham- 
madan rule, where it had extended, had been to destroy 
such rights, and to reduce the village cultivators to a 
common level. There were, here and there, more or less 
vague recollections that some of the villagers held a supe- 
rior position ; they claimed mirdsi rights (rights by ancient 
inheritance), and so forth ; but this was exceptional : 
speaking generally, the villages were only aggregates of 
separate cultivators, held together under a common head- 
man, each man regarding himself as only responsible for, 
and connected with, his own land. On the whole, it 
was clear that a system of dealing with the individual 
occupants of the land would be best. The system now 
proposed, was to commence with a survey of fields, to 
classify these according to soil, and then, by various 
means, to determine a sum of money to which each should 
be separately assessed. Claims to the waste, or other 
vestiges of privilege belonging to a once superior class, 
would be practically adjusted, within the lines of the 

6. Features of the Raiyatwdri system. 

The effect of former misrule in many of the districts had 
been to inspire a great dread of a fixed revenue responsi- 
bility. But few of the cultivators cared to be bound down 
(so to speak) to their farm or holding ; if they could not 
make it pay, they would give it up rather than owe the 
revenue so thoroughly, in a large number of instances, had 
private property in land been broken down. It was there- 


fore a principle of the new system that each man was free 
to hold his land, subject to payment of the assessment, or 
to give notice and relinquish it if he pleased. 

The waste (and abandoned) fields were not given over to 
villages, except a limited area for pasture. The waste 
' numbers ' were retained in the hands of the State, as a 
means of extending cultivation and increasing the revenue, 
when better times came, and land was more in demand. 
Any man (with a certain preference in favour of old culti- 
vators) was at liberty to apply for a vacant or waste 
number, on agreeing to pay the revenue which would 
become due on it according to its class. 

In order, therefore, to know what land every cultivator 
had actually held in each year, what he was to pay, and 
what to receive remission for, an annual account was 
made out, under a simple system ; this process, known as 
the ' annual jamabandi,' is characteristic of the system of 
Madras and of Bombay also. 

7. The Mode of Assessment. 

It was long before any definite mode of assessment was 
adopted. The first Settlements endeavoured to find out 
rates for the different classes and kinds of soils adopted for 
assessment purposes ; and in doing so, regard was had to 
existing rates ; perhaps I ought to say great reliance was 
placed on them. It was known that under the late rulers, 
certain sums were paid for certain fields, and were shown 
in the accounts. But these rates were probably very high, 
and moreover had to be adjusted and equalized, to give 
soil-rates. Then too, there was free recourse to consultation 
with the people and comparing one village with another. 
Rates, in short, were founded partly on old accounts, and 
partly on estimates based on general considerations and 
the local officers' sense of fitness. 

The local officers, I suspect, were much inclined to lower 
the rates ; but the necessities of the Government in those 
days rendered reduction an unpalatable proposal, and hence 


they did not venture to be as liberal as they would 
have wished. Whether this is so or not, the fault of the 
early Settlements certainly was, that the rates were 
pitched too high. They worked so badly (in that respect) 
that the history of our revenue-administration, as found 
in the District Manuals, is chiefly an account of revisions 
and remissions, and of devices for mitigating over-heavy 
assessments x . 

It was also a common practice in the earlier Settlements, 
to discover the produce of an acre of each class of soil, to 
value that produce of course a low average quantity at 
an average price deduced from a number of yearly price- 
tables, and then to calculate out the costs of cultivation 
and profits of stock, and take a fraction never exceeding 
fifty per cent. of the balance. This method is still recog- 
nized in Madras, to some extent at least, and especially as 
a test for checking rates arrived at in other ways. 

As a method pure and simple, it is an impossible one; 
the ' average produce ' never can be ascertained ; the cir- 
cumstances of localities even those near together are too 
unaccountably various ; and the costs of cultivation may 
be calculated by the most experienced officers at widely 
different figures for the same areas. 

The modern system of Madras assessment has developed 
more in the direction of making simple and accurate the 
classification of soils, and applying a comparatively simple 
scale of rates to the soils, than in any novel method for 
fixing the rates themselves. 

The soil classification is both simple and neat ; and it 
answers every purpose. A different classification and 
grouping are adopted in ' dry lands,' i. e. those cultivated by 
rain, or by wells, and those chiefly rice-lands which are 
' wet,' or habitually irrigated by tanks. First of all, there 
is the usual grouping of villages according to position; for 
it is obvious that, given a certain kind of soil, the same 

1 The accounts too, bristle with ology, which gives the Revenue his- 
technicalities and the most heart- tory an air of mystery and difficulty 
rending local vernacular phrase- which does not really belong to it. 


rate may be too high if the village is in a remote inacces- 
sible group, and too low if it is in command of a good 
market and close to an important line of communication. 
Soils are naturally divided into certain series ' black 
soil,' ' red soil,' &c., &c. But each series will have several 
classes, according to the proportion of the mineral material 
which gives the character to the soil. This is technically 
called ' clay.' Every series may show a soil (I) nearly all 
' clay,' (II) half clay and half sand, (III) mostly sand. These 
are the classes of the series. And once more, each class of 
each series may differ within itself ; there may be a ' good ' 
sort, or ' best,' 'ordinary,' or ' worst,' &c., of the same class. 
As the I, II, III classes belong to the first series, and the IV, 
V, VI to the second, and so on, the Koman numeral used 
for the classes suffices also to include the series. The sort 
is indicated by an Arabic numeral. Thus, having a 
standard table in use, there is no occasion to write out at 
length, series, class, and sort, but only the two numerals. 
Thus ' IV. 5 ' by the table, indicates ' Regar ' series of the 
mixed or loamy class, and of the ' worst ' sort. 

It is not necessary to have a separate rate of assessment 
for each separate class and sort, because it is obvious that 
the same rate which suits one kind in one group of villages 
will suit other kinds in other groups. 

Hence lists of rates are made out, called ' taram.' In all, 
let us suppose, that twelve rates will cover XIV classes, 
with their sorts. Then the first, or highest, taram will 
apply (in dry soils) to the best land in the first group ; the 
second taram of the first group will be the first, or highest, 
of the second group ; the third will be the highest of the 
third group, and so on ; the lowest, or twelfth, taram 
will probably not be used in the first group, and only in 
the second and lower groups. 

The actual taram -rates per acre are ultimately based 
on a calculation of an average produce of one or two 
' standard ' grains, valued at a low average price. 

The grains selected as the ' standard ' are always food- 
grains, and are ascertained by referring to the statistics of 


a taluka, and seeing what food-grains are most largely 

The costs of production are calculated and deducted, and 
fifty per cent, of the balance not more is taken as the 
Government revenue per acre. 

There are special charges and allowances made where 
the land bears two crops in the year; but for such details 
the chapter on Madras must be consulted. 

But though this calculation of average produce duly 
valued, and the deduction of costs, and the taking a fraction 
of the balance, represents the theory 1 , as a matter of fact 
existing rates (as these have been in the course of years 
modified till they work well) are much looked to, and they 
can be altered on general considerations, and without a 
lengthy re-calculation, when necessary. 

Thus, when a calculation on the produce-basis has once 
been made, and prices have steadily risen since ; the rate 
can be raised, at a revision, by a simple percentage addi- 
tion. And so with the calculation of costs made to get 
the net balance. It is rarely that a new investigation has 
to be made ; figures are taken from neighbouring districts, 
or other talukas similarly situated, and the use of these is 
justified in various ways. 

It is also a feature of this system that certain remissions 
for loss of crop are regularly allowed at the annual jama- 
bandi ; this is not found in any other system. 

1 Here is an example given briefly 
and in abstract : Suppose a taluka 
has 13 per cent, of ' Ragi ' cultiva- 
tion, and 13 of ' Varagu/ and these 
are the highest of the food-grains. 
Other grains approximate in value, 
so that we can treat them prac- 
tically as if they were Ragi and 
Varagu, respectively. Thus we may 
let the whole produce be fairly 
represented by 48 per cent. ' Ragi ' 
and 52 per cent. ' Varagu,' or 
roughly, half and half. Then, 

taking a class and sort of soil (say 
IV. 2) in the first or best group of 
villages, the outturn of grain is 
found to be 320 Madras measures 
of Ragi and 440 Varagu. Roughly 
each acre has 50 per cent, of each, 
or 1 60 + 220, and the value by the 
price table is R. 7.1.7 + 6.1.11 = 13.3.6. 
Suppose the costs of cultivation to 
be R. 6.3.6 ; then the net produce is 
7.0.0. 50 per cent, of this is R. 3.8.0, 
which is the taram (or revenue rate) 


8. Rates not permanent. 

In the early days expressions may be found in many of 
the official minutes, to show that it was then thought 
possible to fix rates once for all ; so that though the 
revenue would rise by new lands being brought under 
cultivation, the rates would not alter. But the Settle- 
ments, as I have said, made before the modern system 
was developed, worked so badly, that the rates had to be 
again and again revised ; doubtless this had its effect in 
showing how unwise it is to talk about a permanent Settle- 
ment, while information as to rates is not perfect, or while 
conditions are in any degree undeveloped. 

The tendency, in revision Settlements, not to alter rates 
found to work well, is distinctly visible in Madras. Indeed 
it is laid down as a principle, that at revision, no change 
is to be made, except on the ground of a general rise in 

9. 'Ceded' and 'Conquered' Districts in Upper India. 

While the Madras Raiyatwdri system was being worked 
out and discussed in letters from home (which I quote in 
the Madras chapters), there had been important ADDITIONS 
to BENGAL. Passing over the Benares province, which was 
permanently settled in I795-96 1 , we come to the year 1801, 
when a number of districts were ' ceded ' by the Oudh 
Government, in order that the revenue might pay for 
troops to defend the King of Oudh from his many enemies. 
And two years later (1803) the result of Lord Lake's cam- 
paigns had been to wrest from the Marathas a number of dis- 
tricts adjoining the former (and extending into what is now 
the Panjab Province) known as the 'conquered' districts. 
The same campaign also added to Lower Bengal the districts 

1 The ordinary law and practice rights recorded, and management 

were followed ; but the tenures carried on exactly as in the rest of 

were somewhat different. Moreover, the province, with the one special 

being soon annexed to the other feature that the assessment is un- 

North-West Provinces, the Benares alterable, 
districts were in time surveyed, all 


of Orissa. The student will remember that when the Em- 
peror granted, in 1 7 65, the civil government of Bengal to the 
Company, it was, in form, the grant of ' Bengal, Bihar, and 
Orissa.' The ' Orissa ' of those days meant the district of 
Midnapore (Mednipur), exclusive of the Pataspur pargana 
beyond the Subarnrekha river. The ' Orissa ' conquered 
in 1803 was described in the Regulations passed for the 
Settlement, as the pargana of Pataspur and the Cuttack 
(Katak) province (now Puri, Balasore, and Cuttack). 

In all these districts, both of the North- West and of 
Orissa, there were but few Zaniindars. I may pass by 
Orissa, as it did not present any such features as led to 
a special theory of Settlement : the law ultimately passed 
for the Settlement of these new territories, was, in reality, 
framed chiefly with reference to the North -West Provinces. 

10. Absence of Zaminddrs- Strong Village 

In the North- West Provinces the feature that brought 
about a revolution in Settlement ideas, was the fact that, 
though here and there there were native Rajas who had 
become revenue ' Zamindars ' and Taluqdars of great estates, 
their growth was not in all cases equal 1 ; and whether 
there were overlords or not, the village-bodies had (except 
in parts devastated by the Rohillas) preserved a vitality 
which soon attracted attention. There were, in many of 
them, bodies claiming descent from a chief or other notable 
who had founded the village or obtained it on grant. 
They were now numerous and frequently had divided the 
village into shares called ' patti ' ; but they had a strong 
claim over the whole area, including the site on which 
the village dwelling-places clustered, and a certain extent 
of waste and pasture-ground beyond. They had never been 
ground ddwn to being ( tenants ' under any Zamindar, or if 
the process had begun, it was not difficult to arrest it. 

I do not mean, of course, that all villages were like this ; 

1 They had not, in fact, grown into the very nature of things as 
they had in Bengal. 


but this was a salient feature among them. There were, no 
doubt, many villages which were only of recent growth. 
Throughout Rohilkhand, for example, the Rohillas had 
destroyed all rights, and such villages as had revived, now 
mostly contained groups of ruined tenants ; and a ' pro- 
prietor ' had arisen in the person who had come forward to 
pay the revenue, ancl re-establish the cultivation 1 . Other 
villages had really passed under the power of Taluqdars 
and Rajas, and formed part of their estates. This brief 
resume will, I think, be quite sufficient after what has been 
said in the last chapter. 

ii. Early Regulations did not comprehend the position. 

At first, however, the Settlement Regulations still sug- 
gested by their language that the Bengal system would 
apply. They appear to suppose that there must be a 
landlord over every estate to be settled with ; and the 
permanency of the Settlement was contemplated. As a 
preliminary measure, contracts were made with farmers 
who undertook one, or a few, or many villages ; and this 
was productive of great mischief. The Regulations directed 
that a Settlement should be made for a term of five 
years and then renewed, and then renewed again for a 
short term ; and that when the fourth Settlement was 
complete, it should be PERMANENT (if sanctioned by the 
home authorities). This, it was thought, was a cautious 
plan, allowing ample time for collecting information, and 
for testing by practice the effect of the Settlements five 
years was long enough to reveal errors, and not long 
enough to stereotype them. But the design was only 
partly carried out. 

Two things followed : first, the authorities at home were 
by this time thoroughly aware of the danger of fixing a 
permanent assessment on imperfect data, and for districts 
not yet developed; they therefore prohibited the per- 

1 In the course of a few genera- body (as the case might be) of pro- 
tions the descendants of such a prietary co-sharers. 
person became a joint or a divided 


manency of the Settlement ; and a new Regulation had to 
be passed announcing that the assent spoken of in the first 
Regulations was withheld. Second, the inquiries gradually 
made, showed that the true titles of those who held 
interests in villages had been greatly overlooked, and that 
rights had been destroyed by the farming system, and that 
all sorts of frauds in selling villages for arrears of revenue 
had taken place ; this was an additional reason for not 
hastening a permanent Settlement which would have 
necessitated the irrevocable determination of who was the 
proprietor. (See Sec. VII. i.) 

12. The Result of Settlement Inquiries. 

When the time for the Fourth Settlement came round, a 
very capable Commission was appointed to make it with 
all care and circumspection. 

This Commission, with its Secretary, was so useful that 
it was afterwards made permanent, and developed into the 
Board of Revenue or chief controlling authority in revenue 
matters, over the north-western districts of Bengal. The 
districts themselves were, as I have explained, separated 
from Bengal in 1834-6, and formed into a distinct province 
under a Lieutenant- Governor. 

The labours of the Commission were concluded by a 
report to Government on which Mr. Holt Mackenzie wrote 
a long and most valuable minute dated ist July, 

13. Holt Mackenzie's Minute. Regulation VII of 1822. 

This minute strongly protested against all artificial 
creation of landlords, forcing farmers of revenue and 
headmen, who were mere representatives of the body, 
into the position of landlord ; and finally urged the survey 
of the districts and the complete record of all rights and 
shares and interests in the village lands. 

1 This invaluable paper, which is in the Revenue Selections, North- 

to the ' village Settlement ' system Western Provinces, 1818-20. Cal- 

what Mr. Shore's minutes were to cutta, 1866. 
the Bengal Settlements, is reprinted 



The result was the passing of the celebrated Regulation 
VII of 1822, which long remained the central law of the 

Under this system, certain principles soon developed. 
The aim was to restore, and even perhaps unduly re- 
store, the rights of the village owners ; recognizing their 
landlord character, they were settled with, not indivi- 
dually, but as a joint body. That body was jointly and 
severally liable for the revenue, and was entitled to the 
whole area determined by the survey as appropriated 
to the village, whether cultivated or waste. There were 
some cases where villages were clearly owned by Rajas 
or others ; and here while the Raja (as Zamindar) held 
the Settlement and was 'proprietor' par excellence, the 
villagers became 'subordinate proprietors,' in which case 
their rights were protected by a sort of secondary Settle- 
ment, called (formerly) a ' mufassal Settlement 2 ' : this 
determined, for the whole period, what they were to pay to 
the overlord, just as the main Settlement determined what 
he was to pay to the Government. 

14. Policy of setting aside the Overlords. 

But a policy soon developed itself, of setting aside the 
overlord with a ' taluqdari ' money allowance, and settling 
direct with the villagers. This resulted from the law which 
prescribed that where there were several parties with 
interests in the land, the Settlement Officer should 
determine, under the orders of superior authority, with 

1 The term ' temporary ' has 
been always used to indicate Settle- 
ments that are not permanent. It 
is not a very happy choice, as it 
suggests the idea of something that 
is a make-shift or to be replaced by 
something else. That is not the 
meaning. All that is denoted is 
that the assessment is fixed for a 
period, usually thirty years (some- 
times less), after which the rates 
may be revised, and the records of 

rights also, if they need it. 

" I may repeat an explanation of 
the term. The Arabic mufassal 
means ' separate ' or distinct. 
Hence the ' mufassal jama ' is the 
subordinate revenue payable to the 
overlord as distinct from that which 
the latter pays to the Government. 
The term ' mufassal ' (or commonly 
mofussil) is applied also to the dis- 
tricts as distinct from the capital or 
' sadr.' 


which party the Settlement was to be made, and how 
the interests of the others were to be recognized. 

15. New principle of Assessment. 

The next principle was that the assessment was to be on 
a different plan from that pursued in Bengal. The Gover- 
nor-General ordered : 

' It seems necessary to enter on the task of fixing in detail 
the rates of rent [revenue] and modes of payment current in 
each village, and applicable to each field : and anything short 
of this must be regarded as a very imperfect Settlement.' 

The revenue was, in shor^ to depend upon inquiry into 
the actual produce of all varieties and classes of land. 
From the gross produce was to be deducted the calculated 
amount of the cost of cultivation, the wages of labour, &c. ; 
and the net result, added to any profits derived from 
the produce of grazing and waste lands (and the pro- 
spective value of waste when brought under the plough), 
was spoken of as the 'assets' of each village or other 
estate. The Government revenue consisted of a fraction, 
at first ordered to be two-thirds, and afterwards about one- 
half, of this sum of ' assets V 

1 6. Duration of the Temporary Settlement. 

As the law said nothing about the duration of the 
Settlements, the Government fixed from time to time, from 
motives of policy and convenience, such term as was 
thought fair. The object was, to give the village body or 
other proprietor the benefit of a solid property, encourage 
improvements by securing to him the benefit of all in- 
crease during the term of Settlement ; avoiding, also, the 
trouble and expense of a too frequent repetition of the 
elaborate process of assessment. The term of thirty years 

1 In the Bengal chapters I have of the fraction of the estate assets 
discussed at some length the origin taken by Government. 


was fixed, not by law, but by executive order, for the first 
'Regular Settlement.' And this term has become very 
general for Temporary Settlements. In some cases, a period 
of twenty or even ten years, has been preferred. The 
special considerations bearing on the subject in each case, 
must be reserved to the detailed chapters. 

17. Explanation of 'Regular' and 'Summary' 

I may mention that when it is necessary in a new 
province, to fix a preliminary amount of revenue, pending 
a more exact adjustment, and pending arrangements for 
a survey and record of rights, such a Settlement is called 
a c summary' Settlement. When the full operations required 
by law have been gone through, it is a 'first Regular 
Settlement ' ; and subsequent Settlements are called ' Re- 
settlements,' or ' Revision ' Settlements. 

1 8. ' Temporary' Settlements are also, in the North-West 
Provinces, village or mahdl Settlements. 

The Regulation VII Settlements are spoken of as Settle- 
ments under the TEMPORARY system, and also as under the 
VILLAGE, or, more correctly, the MAHAL, system, because, in 
the bulk of cases, the village is the estate or unit. But this 
is not always the case, for it may be that part of a village 
or parts of several villages are held under one title, and 
therefore form the unit of assessment, or, in Revenue 
language, the MAHAL. Sometimes the Settlement is said 
to be ' zamindari,' not because there is any great landlord 
or ' Zamindar ' as in Bengal, but because the principle is 
maintained that the Government deals with a landlord, not 
with the individual raiyat ; only that in this case the land- 
lord is not (or not usually) a single individual but an ideal 
body, the village community jointly liable for the revenue, 
and regarded as a corporate unit represented by its ' lam- 
bardar,' as the headman is called in the North-West 
Provinces. (See Chap. IV, pp. 152-3.) 


19. Failure of the first method of Assessment. Modifica- 
tion of the Regulation VII system. 

For the first eleven years but slow progress was made 
with the North -West system, as I may shortly call it. The 
machinery was insufficient for the purposes of such an 
inquiry into produce as I have indicated. The Government 
repeatedly complained of want of progress ; and the Board 
were compelled to admit that they could record little or 
none. The fact is, the villages in the North -West Pro- 
vinces, as a rule, are not ' raiyatwari ' ; there are landlord 
classes in the villages, even where there are not great 
landlords, and they did not .facilitate such inquiries. The 
result was (as we shall see in more detail in studying 
the North -Western Provinces) that a Committee was assem- 
bled, over which the Governor- General presided in person ; 
and Regulation IX of 1833 was passed, which improved the 
official machinery and abolished the minute inquiry into 
the produce of fields and the costs of production. 

20. Tenants and Cash Rents. 

By this time the use of coined money was so general, 
that in the older districts, land was not only largely held 
by tenants (the co-sharers not themselves cultivating), but 
the rents were commonly paid in cash, not in grain ; and 
thus it became possible to adopt the system of Settlement 
which has been gradually perfected into the modern plan. 
I should defeat my present object by going into detail 
(which is given elsewhere), but I may say generally, that 
the beginning of the new system was first to ascertain 
a general lump sum which each estate could afford to pay ; 
and this lump sum was tested by seeing how it would 
fall as an acreage rate on the lands, and how such rates 
would compare with what the Settlement Officer calculated 
were fair and proper rates for the different sorts of land. 
Later on in revenue history, the fixing lump sums was 
discarded, and attention was given to classifying soils 

VOL. I. X 


carefully and determining acreage rent-rates independently 
for each. 

The village system being strong, either the original body, 
or one of later origin (the descendants of a grantee, village- 
founder or revenue-farmer) had usually maintained their 
lands and their privileges ; and, as a natural consequence, 
village institutions the headman and the patwari (with 
their records and accounts) had not suffered the decay 
that marked them under the different historical conditions 
that had arisen in Bengal. 

Hence it was possible to ascertain from the village records 
(as compiled and formulated in the Settlement operations) 
what rates of revenue, and to some extent of rent, were 
proper. But at first the system demanded a great deal 
more reliance on what ought to be, and would be, than 
what actually was. And it must be admitted that village 
accounts were often purposely framed to represent the rents 
as lower than they really were ; and the Settlement officials 
had to 'correct' them by bringing them up to what (by 
inquiry and the application of various test calculations) 
they supposed them really to be and likely to become. 
Moreover, much land was held by the proprietors them- 
selves, and, of course, paid no rent or only a nominal sum 
for village account purposes. This land had, therefore, 
to have its full rental ascertained and recorded ; so too 
there were lands, held rent-free in charity or for religious 
purposes, which the land-owners granted, not the Govern- 
ment, and these had also to be valued. By thus ascertain- 
ing an ideal or corrected rent for every acre in the village, 
a new total 'assets' sheet was made out. It will be 
remembered that at first, owing to the difficulty of finding 
out the real, actual, rents, the plan adopted was to make 
allowance for what it was believed, on general consider- 
ations, the rates would be raised to in the years imme- 
diately succeeding the Settlement. 


21. Proportion of the total rental Assets taken by 

The early rule was to take two-thirds of what were 
roughly calculated to be the ' assets ' of each estate. But 
after twenty years of gradual growth in the methods of 
Settlement, this proportion was reduced. When, under rude 
methods, we take the assets at a very low figure, it is 
morally certain that in reality they are very much greater ; 
and if we take as much as two-thirds of such lowly- 
calculated assets, we are really taking a moderate share. 
But the more our system approaches to ascertaining the 
full income of an estate, the more moderate must we be in 
the proportion. 

In 1855 it was determined that the Government share 
should be reduced to about fifty per cent, of the assets. 

22. Principle of the later North-Went Assessments. 

The later systems of assessment in the North -Western 
Provinces are really successive attempts to perfect the 
methods of calculating the rental assets ; and they have 
twice been modified. The first modification consisted in 
a simpler and better soil-classification and in attending 
more (but still not entirely) to actual rents. The latest 
modification may be briefly described as attending only 
to actual rents. refusing all speculative additions, though 
of course carefully correcting the village records, by addi- 
tions to supply manifest under-statements, or to fix rental 
rates for lands for which either privileged rates, or no rents 
at all are paid, and which are not entitled to escape assess- 
ment. Then we speak of the ' corrected assets.' 

23. The Proprietor's 'Sir.' 

I have already explained (Chap. IV. sec. ii, 47) the term 
' sir,' and I must ask the student to familiarize himself 

X 2 


with it. When the bulk of lands in any estate 1 , whether 
in Bengal or the North -West Provinces, is rented out, 
certain lands, often the best, are kept in the hands of the 
co-sharers (or the sole proprietor as the case may be), and 
are cultivated as the home-farm, by hired labour, or even 
by the family itself. Such land is called ' sir.' It some- 
times happens, if the revenue is light, that the landlords 
are able to pay the whole out of the proceeds of the 
rented lands, supplemented by grazing fees from common 
lands and other miscellaneous sources of income : and then 
each enjoys his ' sir ' for his sole personal benefit ; or, if the 
income is not sufficient to meet the Government demand, 
the proprietor (or each co-sharer) may have to make up 
by a rate or rent on his ' sir,' what is deficient. The im- 
portance of the sir land in estimating the ' assets ' of the 
estate is very great. The revenue being a fraction of the 
' rental assets ' as estimated, it is obvious that, in order to 
get at a fair rental value for the entire estate, rent-rates 
must be assumed for all ' sir ' lands, because these are not 
actually rented, and do not appear in the rent-roll of the 
village (or if they do, it is at nominal or privileged rates). 
If, therefore, the ' sir ' be valued at full rental rates, the 
revenue of the whole estate will be much higher than if 
some lower rates were fixed. And as a matter of fact, the 
holder of ' sir ' was greatly benefited by the successive 
changes in the assessment rules. But this is a point of 
detail which I must reserve for the special chapters de- 
voted to the North -West Provinces. I will here only men- 
tion that the last modification allowed the sir to be valued 
at twenty-five per cent, below the full rates as calculated for 
tenants. In future revisions, however, this allowance, 
which is certainly over liberal, will be reduced to between 
ten and fifteen per cent. 

There are also certain other privileges attached to ' sir ' 

1 Any estate, that is, where It is are mostly of non-agricultural castes, 

not a mere farm or holding worked and the bulk of their land is held 

by an (agriculturist) landlord, as in by tenants who represent the old 

the Panjab. In the provinces cultivators before the ' landlord ' 

named in the text, the landlords came. 


land. For example, it may happen that the estate is sold for 
arrears of revenue ; the proprietor will not be turned out 
of his ' sir,' but be allowed to remain in possession as an 
' exproprietary tenant' : and the same thing would happen 
if the proprietor declined the terms of Settlement and 
Government gave the estate, for a time, to some one else. 

When the tenant-law grants occupancy-right, with its 
attendant rental limits, on ordinary land, it always ex- 
empts the proprietor's sir from such burdens. It thus 
becomes a matter of importance to see that, under colour 
of any legal definition of ' sir,' a proprietor is not enabled 
to get the best part of the village lands into his own hands 
and so defeat one of the most important rights of the village 
tenantry. It was (among "other things) to prevent an 
incipient danger of this kind, that the Central Provinces 
Land-Revenue Act was amended in 1889. 

This general sketch (and it is not exhaustive) will at 
once suggest the importance of the term ' sir ' which crops 
up again and again in revenue literature ; and it should be 
remembered accordingly. 

34. The Panjab Territory and its Settlement. 

The history of our territorial acquisitions already given, 
will have informed the student that (exclusively of the 
Delhi districts) the Panjab was acquired partly in 1846, 
and as a whole in 1849. ^ ne Delhi districts in the region 
of the Jamna, and forming part of the ' Conquered districts ' 
of the year 1803, were at first under the North -West Pro- 
vinces, and afterwards (1858) were added to the Panjab 
owing to the events of the Mutiny. 

The Panjab Settlements were made entirely on the North- 
West model, which was easily copied because the villages 
were of the landlord or joint type and in a still more 
perfect state than in the North- West Provinces. From 
causes which I cannot here examine, no Rajas and Taluq- 
dars had, as a rule, survived, over the communities of Jats, 
Rajputs, Arains, and others. The Sikh rule had placed 


jagirdars over many of them, these being in fact the chiefs 
of territories holding estates in 'feudal' subordination to 
the Maharaja on the usual Hindu model. It was rarely, 
however, that such overlords had grown into ' actual pro- 
prietors.' The ' superior ' claims were almost all disposed 
of by grant of cash allowances ; and in the overwhelming 
majority of cases, the village joint-body was the imme- 
diate or actual landlord. The landlord families were 
mostly of the agricultural castes, and consequently the land 
was largely cultivated by the co-sharers themselves, and 
only held by tenants to a limited extent : these tenants 
pay grain-rents in most cases. Moreover, there had been 
no farmers and revenue sales to speak of, so that new pro- 
prietary bodies (descendants of the farmers and purchasers) 
and nearly always persons who do not themselves culti- 
vate had not grown up over the villages. 

These features at once necessitated a different mode of 
ascertaining the assets of estates for revenue purposes. As 
cash rents paid by tenants were the rare exception, the 
re7ifaZ-asset plan above described could not be adopted. 
At the same time the method of working out produce rates, 
and calculating costs of production, was hardly more feasible 
in the Panjab than it was in the North- Western Provinces. 

The method actually adopted was that also at first used 
in the North -West Provinces (and especially for districts 
where grain-rents were common), namely, the calculation of 
lump sums of revenue to be distributed over the holdings, 
and called the ' aggregate to detail ' method. It consisted 
in looking to former revenue-payments, and then, with the 
aid of local knowledge of the growth and prosperity of a 
pargana or other circle (adopted with reference to similarity 
of market advantages, soil, irrigation, and other conditions), 
determining a lump sum for the whole area, which it was sup- 
posed would be fair. This was tested by distributing it over 
the villages ; and once more, by dividing the village totals 
over the holdings, it could be seen whether these were fair. 
Produce- estimates were often made use of, and by turning 
into money a sixth, a fifth, and so on, of the gross produce 


it was seen how the rates would compare with those first 
assumed. Then, perhaps, some lands did pay money-rents, 
and these could be made use of for comparison ; and so 
also could plough-rates, when the people made use of cer- 
tain rates for each ' plough ' possessed by the village-body. 
Fair rates being thus got out and submitted for sanction, a 
total was again made out for each village, and the total 
would be finally modified with reference to the class of 
cultivators, to prospects of utilising the waste, or to profits 
from grass. A village jama' would thus be arrived at ; and 
this would be distributed over the holdings in consultation 
with the co-sharers. These latter always well understood 
such an operation (called making the ' bachh ') ; and then 
the whole business was concluded. It is of no use for my 
present purpose to describe the latest rules for assessment : 
they prescribe a more exact but simple method of soil 
classification and the direct calculation of revenue-rates 
per acre, which rates are one-half the rental rates as ascer- 
tained on a basis of actually observed facts of payment, in 
specimen, or standard, areas. These rules will be noticed 
in detail in the chapters on the Panjab. 

25. The Central Provinces System. 

In order to complete the series of developments of the 
' village or mahal system,' I will pass over what ought, in 
point of time, to have been mentioned before the Bombay 
system and so proceed to notice another development of 
the North-West system. The Northern districts (Sagar, 
Damon, and Jabalpur) of what is now called the ' Central 
Provinces ' were early settled on the North-West plan, not 
without some considerable difficulties, the record of which 
must be reserved. But when the rest of the province was 
added, and the whole formed into a Local Administration 
(under a Chief Commissioner) in 1863, there was some dis- 
cussion as to what sort of general Settlement should be 
made. The villages, except a few in the North, were not 
of the landlord or joint type, but represented aggregates of 
cultivators, each claiming his own holding and nothing 


more, like the villages of Bombay and Madras. There is 
no doubt that a raiyatwdri Settlement, as in Madras or 
Bombay, would not only have been possible, but highly 
advantageous. However, the North- West Provinces prin- 
ciples were in the ascendant, and a village Settlement was 
ordered. But the jointly responsible body was rarely to 
be found; and the Maratha system, which had long pre- 
vailed, had also produced its natural results. That system 
was one of keen financing ; it was as opposite as possible 
to the lax system of the later Muhammadan rule ; a 
Maratha governor rarely (in such of his territories as were 
firmly in hand) farmed out the revenues of large tracts or 
made reckless revenue-free grants. He went straight to 
the villages, caring nothing for individual rights, and made 
the pdtel or headman responsible for the village total 
assessment. Where the local hereditary pdtel was ineffi- 
cient, or some interested person could get the preference 
over him, he was superseded, and the person who obtained 
the farm of the village was spoken of as the mdlguzdr or 
' revenue-payer.' The persons thus employed and trusted 
must have had large and undefined powers ; and they con- 
sequently grew in influence and gradually acquired a 
g'wasi-proprietary position. It is no doubt a matter of 
opinion to what extent these headmen and farmers (whom 
we now generically call ' malguzars ') had really become 
proprietors. The progress made in that direction varied 
in different districts and under different local conditions. 

2,6. Mdlgtizdrs recognized as Village proprietors. 

However that may be, it was determined to make these 
' revenue-payers ' ' proprietors,' and the Settlement was 
made with them. There might be one ' malguzar,' or there 
might be several descendants of one ; but the individual or 
the body jointly was recognized as proprietor ; and this 
fact gave the peculiar character to the Central Provinces 
Settlement which has caused it to be popularly called the 
i ' Settlement ; and it has had curious results. 


27. Features of the Settlement. 

As regards the first assessments, there is nothing par- 
ticular to record. They followed the ' aggregate to detail ' 
method ; and the interesting system of soil rent-rates 
elaborated for the present Settlement (since 1881) must be 
reserved for description at a later stage. 

A number of estates have been left in the hands of Gond 
and other chiefs with the usual designation of Zamindarl ; 
but the noticeable peculiarity of the more or less artificial 
position of 'malguzar' proprietors is, that Government 
never abandoned the village-holders as it did in Bengal. 
Nor did it acknowledge the ' malguzars ' everywhere. In 
the Central Provinces we have some tracts which are 
frankly raiyatwdrC 1 (where there is no over-proprietor or 
landlord) ; and in the malguzari villages there are a consider- 
able body of sub-proprietors and a large number of original 
tenants, over whom the landlord has no power as to evic- 
tion and enhancement; their rents are all fixed by the 
Settlement Officer for the term of Settlement. 

38. Oudh Taluqddri System,. 

There is one other form of Settlement with a middleman 
landlord ; I refer to the Oudh Settlement. The province was 
annexed in 1856. The neglect of the local native adminis- 
tration had resulted in the abandonment of all real control 
over the revenue, and in the adoption of a system of 
settling different tracts of country by bargain with local 
magnates for a fixed (but from time to time enhanceable) 
sum total of revenue. The moment such a tract, called a 
' taluq,' came on to the State-books, all note of the villages 
composing it was dropped, and only the taluq and its 
annual total recorded. 

This course was certainly facilitated, if not initiated, by 
the earlier history of Oudh. The province had been the 

1 Ajid so recognized by the Revenue law as amended in 1889. 


very centre of the old Aryan dominions. To this day the 
limits of a number of petty kingdoms Gonda, Atraula, 
and many others can be traced ; and Mr. Benett has told 
us, in more than one excellent Settlement Report, how 
these kingdoms were organized and managed, and how 
village communities grew up out of their dismemberment 
and decay. The petty kings were probably once united in 
a confederation under some great Maharaja ; but at the 
Muhammadan conquest they were not strong enough to 
resist the Great Mughal, though still able to give him 
much trouble, if not conciliated and made use of. Na- 
turally enough, they were allowed to contract for a revenue- 
payment for their old dominions (or such part of them 
as remained), and then were called ' Taluqdars.' 

The plan being profitable, it was extended. Other 
persons, namely Court favourites, bankers, and speculators, 
occasionally obtained similar grants of 'taluqs' and be- 
came ' Taluqdars'; but the marks of origin long survived in 
the ominous distinction of ' pure ' and ' impure ' Taluqdars. 

How far in the century between 1750 and 1856 the 
Taluqdars had by purchase, by violence, or by founding 
new villages, really worked themselves into a proprietary 
position, I cannot here examine. Opinions still vary on the 
subject ; and it is obvious that the process, which undoubt- 
edly did go on, must have reached very various stages in 
different places, and under different conditions, especially 
with reference to the character and caste of the village 

29. Circumstances necessitated the recognition of 

Here I need only note that, under the North-West 
policy of ignoring the overlords and settling direct with the 
villagers as proprietary bodies, the first plan of 1856 was 
to settle with the villagers under the North- West Provinces 
law. though it must be admitted that, even under that 
plan, Taluqdars were much more recognized as de facto 
owners, than is sometimes supposed. 


Scarcely, however, had the Settlement begun, when the 
Mutiny broke out, and the Taluqdars, with a few exceptions, 
revolted. What had been done towards Settlement, in the 
matter of records, perished. The people voluntarily re- 
turned to the Taluqdars and paid their revenue to them. 

When the pacification of 1858 ensued, views had 
changed; the great body of the Taluqdars were am- 
nestied, and a Settlement was made with them. This 
necessitated an elaborate series of provisions as to the 
protection to be afforded to villages in the taluqs. Some 
had so far preserved their integrity that they were en- 
titled to a ' sub-settlement ' ; others had not, but various 
degrees of occupancy-right and rent-limitation were 
acknowledged ; all these measures have been the subject 
of much criticism. Besides that, the general question of 
tenant-right left a long legacy of trouble which has only 
found its end (for the present at any rate) in the tenant- 
law of 1886. 

There is nothing to call for remark as to the method of 
Settlement which was based on the earlier North -West 
Provinces system. This Settlement is distinctively spoken 
of as the TALUQDARf Settlement. 

30. The Bombay System. 

Such has been the development and the variation of 
Temporary Settlement systems originating in Regulation 
VII of 1822 and Regulation IX of 1833. 

We must now retrace our steps to look to Western India. 
The Bombay territories (speaking generally) were acquired 
between 1 803-1 8 1 8, as the result of the defeat of the Maratha 
power. For a long time no progress was made in the re- 
venue-administration. A system of farming the revenues, 
on the basis of the Maratha or other preceding assessments, 
was pursued, and with very unsatisfactory results. 

There never was any appearance of great ' Zamindars,' 
so that the Bengal system could not have been thought of. 
The bulk of the villages in the Dakhan districts were of the 


raiyatwdrt type, though in certain parts there were a few 
' narwa,' ' bhagdari,' and other estates jointly held by com- 
munities connected by a tie of descent. In Guzarat, also, 
the immigration of martial tribes of the Rajput type, and 
the government by chiefs, had left traces of an ' overlord ' or 
taluqdari tenure over the villages ; while in the Konkan, 
'khots,' or revenue-farmers of the Maratha rule, had ac- 
quired rights over the villages, of a somewhat peculiar 

A portion of these territories had originally been settled 
by Malik 'Ambar, the best representative of the power of the 
Muhammadan kings of the South in their palmy days 1 . This 
minister had been at much pains to secure and acknowledge 
a proprietary right, and this tended to preserve the ances- 
tral communities, where they existed ; since ancestral hold- 
ing is, in all Eastern countries, the strongest form of 
connection with the soil. In his time, village assessments 
in the lump, were apparently the rule ; and although the 
Maratha system had superseded that of Malik 'Ambar, 
and was essentially a raiyatwari system, it had not obli- 
terated the traces of the former system. It is therefore 
not wonderful that the opinion should have been advocated 
that, in Bombay, the existing status of the raiyatwdri 
villages was in many cases, if not universally, due to the 
decay of an earlier landlord or joint constitution, rather 
than inherent in the nature of the groups themselves 2 . 

At first, indeed, the matter did not come prominently to 
notice, because, during the early years of our rule, the terri- 
tories were provided for by the usual tentative arrange- 
ments for farming the revenues on short leases. A twenty 
years' experience, however, during which grievous hardships 
were inflicted on the districts, sufficed to make us at once, 
and for ever, discard the farmers, and set about finding 
a better plan. 

1 He also settled most of Berar. Vol. III. (Bombay chapters). At 
a Details about the faint survival best, the Dakhan mirds right was 
of ' mirasi ' claims will be found in too shadowy for practical revival. 


31. Attempt to introduce a system of Settlement ivith 
Villages jointly. 

The raiyatwari system was then much in vogue, conse- 
quent on Sir Thomas Munro's action in Madras. But Mr. 
Elphinstone, the then Governor of Bombay, took the view 
above alluded to, about the joint system, and was anxious 
not only to maintain it wherever it could be found, but even 
to create it in the case of those communities where no land- 
lord claims survived ; securing, indeed, the rights of each 
cultivator by record, but establishing a joint responsibility, 
and settling with the original ' patels ' or headmen of the 
village as representatives of the body. 

It is no easy thing, however, to create a joint responsi- 
bility where it does not in fact exist. Although long years 
of custom may have taught the cultivator to submit to an 
annual adjustment of his individual burdens and liabilities 
by the headman, it has never laid him under any responsi- 
bility in case one of his neighbours failed *. 

1 The account of the Bombay 
system in Campbell's Modern India 
(1858), though giving a good de- 
scription of Mr. Elphinstone's 
views, is now too much out of date 
to be otherwise useful ; for the 
Bombay system has since been 
altered and perfected in a way that 
has completely outgrown a descrip- 
tion penned more than thirty years 
ago. The account is also to some 
extent marred by the author's ap- 
parent prejudice in favour of the 
joint responsibility and village 
settlement with which he was fa- 
miliar. His objections to the Bom- 
bay system (notably the costliness 
of the village officials and the re- 
cognition of rights to rent-free hold- 
ings) affect mere accidents of the 
place, they do not touch the prin- 
ciples of the system. As a matter 
of fact, many of these evils have 
been removed or greatly mitigated. 
He also speaks of the joint respon- 
sibility as if it was an easy thing to 
introduce. But in fact it is not so. 
To establish it artificially over whole 
districts, and tell the people ' the 

system is convenient to your rulers, 
and when you are wiser you will 
see that it is also calculated to pro- 
mote your own interest,' is beset 
with such difficulties as to make it 
impracticable. The people posi- 
tively decline to undertake that the 
solvent members shall be respon- 
sible for the defaulting ones. What 
becomes of your system then ? I 
need hardly point out the futility 
of comparing revenue systems in 
point of inherent merit, because 
every system may be good or the 
reverse according as it fits the facts. 
But even admitting the superior 
facilities which the joint-village 
system offers to revenue-manage- 
ment, the originators of the Bombay 
system claim for it certain counter- 
balancing advantages. By breaking 
up the land into small holdings, 
and allowing every occupant to 
keep as many of his ' numbers,' or 
give up as many, as he thinks de- 
sirable, the small farmer is enabled 
to contract his operations or enlarge 
them according to the capital and 
stock at his disposal. The revenue 


The plan of settling for a lump sum with the village as 
a body used to be advocated because it was said to facilitate 
revenue-management ; it enabled Government to deal with 
fewer units. The Bombay officers do not, however, admit 
that there is any difficulty in dealing with thousands of 
separate cultivators 1 . The difficulty only seems great to those 
accustomed to deal with one or with a few revenue-payers. 
At any rate, if there is difficulty, it is obviated by a perfect 
survey, a clear and complete record of each lot or field and 
the revenue assessed on it, and by a thorough control over the 

being fixed for a long term, of years, 
the farmer gets all the benefit of a 
long lease without its disadvantages. 
Nor does the Government really 
lose ; because taking its revenue, 
not from one estate, but from the 
whole country, that revenue must, 
under any system, fluctuate with 
the circumstances of the country at 
large. With farmers of large capital, 
the long fixed lease may answer 
best ; but with those of small 
means, the risk and responsibility 
which have to be set off against the 
security of profits, are more to be 
considered, and such risks are 
avoided by giving the villager the 
right of holding his land from year 
to year only, if he pleases. 

In the North-West Provinces 
every village is allowed an area of 
waste, which it can bring under 
cultivation without the total assess- 
ment of the village being increased. 
Under a raiyatwAri system, any 
uncultivated number that is taken 
up has to be paid for ; but in prac- 
tice this does not interfere with the 
extension of cultivation ; and as a 
matter of fact, though the North- 
West assessment does not increase 
when the waste of the village is 

made to yield crops, still that as- 
sessment is originally fixed after 
taking into consideration the capa- 
bilities of the estate, and the prob- 
able average yield of the whole, for 
the entire term. 

It is also urged that the village 
officers collect the revenue from 
each separate holder just as easily 
as they do from a joint body, who, 
though together responsible, still 
ultimately pay separately according 
to known shares ; and as under the 
Bombay system every occupant is 
furnished with a receipt book, which 
the patw&ri (paiidyS or kulkarni) 
is bound to write up, there is no 
room for fraud. To any one who 
wishes further to study the^wos and 
cons of both systems, and the im- 
provements which the Bombay 
authorities made on the Madras 
system to remove objections, I can- 
not do better than recommend the 
perusal of the able ' Appendix I ' to 
the Official Correspondence on the Bom- 
bay Settlements (reprint of 1877 : 
Bombay Government Press). 

1 In the Bombay and Madras 
Presidencies the number of raiyats 
and average size of holdings are as 
follows (Govt. Ind. Statistics, 1886-7) : 


Number of 

Average size of holding. 


3, OSS, 788 



! Northern division 8 acres ) 
Central 32 [ 21-5 
Southern 23 ,, ) 


village accountants and revenue-officers of small local sub- 
divisions of districts. 

It was no doubt this inherent difficulty of creating a joint 
responsibility where it did not, naturally or in fact, exist, 
that led to the abandonment of the design to make village- 
Settlements, and to the adoption of the separate field or 
'raiyatwari' system. As a matter of fact, a sort of joint 
responsibility is kept up in certain villages where the 
rights of co-sharers have survived to this day. 

32. Progress of the system in Bombay. 

The defects of the survey- Settlement, as at first worked 
(up to 1 835), acted as a warning to the authorities ; and 
a new departure was then made. An experimental re- 
survey of the Indapur taluk having proved successful, 
the same method was followed elsewhere. In 1847 
three of the ablest Settlement Superintendents met and 
were able to formulate the results of practical experience, 
in the shape of a complete scheme for the survey and 
assessment of village lands. It was not till 1865 that a 
local Act was passed specifically legalising the system. 
This Act has in its turn been repealed ; and the whole 
law has now been completely revised in the Land-Revenue 
Code (Bombay Act V of 1879). There is but little mention 
of a Settlement (although the term does occur in the Code) ; 
there is really a survey and assessment only. There is no 
procedure like that of Upper India, proposing a certain 
sum as the assessment on the whole village, discussing 
the matter with the village proprietary body, and perhaps 
making a reduction and coming to terms with the re- 
presentatives, who then sign an agreement to be respon- 
sible. Under the Bombay system, every acre is assessed 
at rates fixed on almost scientific principles, and then 
the occupant must pay that assessment or relinquish the 


33. OutliTie of the Bombay System. 

The system will be described more in detail in the sequel, 
but here I may generally indicate the outlines of the pro- 

A certain convenient unit of division is selected to form 
the ' survey number ' or ' field.' 

Every field or lot is surveyed, and then the work of 
classification begins. The soil-classes are noted, and 
each field is examined and a sort of diagram of it made, 
which shows not only its soil, but any defects which re- 
duce its value. It is thus ascertained for every field 
what is its relative value ; in other words, taking the 
maximum rate for the class as one whole or sixteen annas 
(on the Indian method of reckoning), whether the field 
can be assessed at the maximum or at something less, at 
fourteen annas, at twelve annas, and so on, down to a 
minimum. The department charged with this work be- 
comes highly experienced in the process, so that it can be 
performed with the greatest accuracy and fairness. Culti- 
vation is usually classed into wet and dry : the process just 
described treats land only on its dry aspect ; if there is irriga- 
tion, then an additional rate may be charged, which will be 
higher or lower according to the goodness and value of 
the source of irrigation ; the rate is only applied to such 
land as is really capable of irrigation from the source in 
question 1 . 

Next, the Settlement Officer begins his work as assessor 
of actual rates ; he has before him the facts of soil classi- 
fication on its unirrigated aspect, and the details of the 
means of irrigation where they exist ; he has to fix what 
are to be the full or maximum rates for dry soil, and what 
are to be the additional rates for irrigation. These rates he 

1 Wet cultivation is rice land, or directly, but a certain addition may 
land that is always flooded for cul- be made to the rate, on account of 
tivation. A ' dry ' field may have a an easy supply of subsoil water re- 
well or other means of partial water- garded as one of the qualities of the 
ing, that does not make it ' wet ' soil, 
land. Wells are not now charged for 


calculates with the aid of all the data he can collect, regard- 
ing former history, the general situation, climate, proximity 
to market, &c. Having thus arrived at the absolute or full 
rates, the field diagrams, which show the relative values, at 
once enable the rates to be applied. A sixteen anna field 
pays the full ; an eight anna field the half, and so on. 

In Bombay (just as in Madras) the occupant of such a 
survey number holds it on the simple terms of paying the 
revenue ; if he admits that he is (or is proved by a decree 
of Court to be) holding on behalf of some one else, as a 
tenant, or in an inferior position, then the 'superior 
holder's ' name is entered in the register, not his : he 
becomes the ' inferior holder,' and it is the superior who is 
entered in the register as the ' occupant ' responsible for the 
assessed sum. Any one who is recorded as the responsible 
holder can simply resign (if he does not like to pay the 
assessment) any field in his holding. The assessment is 
fixed for a period of thirty years, so that a man who elects 
to hold continuously, knows for certain that, during that 
long period, all the profit he can make will go to him. 

At the beginning of each year, he can signify to the 
mamlatdar (or local revenue officer of a taluka subdivision) 
what fields he wishes to hold and what he wishes to give 
up : as long as he does this in proper time, he is free to do 
as he pleases. If he relinquishes, the fields are available 
for any one else ; if no one applies for them, they are 
usually auctioned as fallow (for the right of grazing) for 
the year, and so on, till some one offers to take them up for 
cultivation. Nothing whatever is said in the Revenue 
Code about the person in possession (on his own account) 
being ' owner ' in the Western sense. He is simply called 
the ' occupant,' and the Code says what he can do and what 
he cannot 1 . The occupant may do anything he pleases to 
improve the land, but may not without permission do any- 

1 The ' right of occupancy ' the saying that the occupant is the pro- 

right to be an occupant is itself de- prietor of the soil. In the official 

clared to be a transferable and herit- language of the Presidency, the 

able property (Code, section 73) ; but occupant is said to hold on ' the 

that is quite a different thing from survey tenure.' 

VOL. I. Y 


thing which diverts the holding from agricultural purposes. 
He has no right to mines or minerals. 

These are the facts of the tenure ; you may theorize on 
them as you please ; you may say this amounts to pro- 
prietorship, or this is a 'dominium minus plenum'; or 
anything else. 

The question of tenancy is just as simply dealt with. I 
have stated that if it appears that the occupant is in posses- 
sion in behalf of some one else, that some one else is recorded 
as the 'superior holder,' and he becomes the 'inferior 
holder.' What sort of ' inferior ' whether a tenant or on 
some other terms is a simple question of fact and of the 
agreement or the custom by which he holds 1 . 

If an occupant dies, one (the eldest or managing) heir 
must be entered as the succeeding occupant who has to pay 
the revenue ; for there can only be one registered revenue- 
payer for each field or recognized share of a field with 
a separate survey number ; though of course there may be 
several sharers (joint-heirs of the deceased owner, for in- 
stance) in it. Which of them is so entered depends on the 
agreement of the members of the family, or on the result 
of a Court decree, if there is a dispute. Sharers can always 
get their shares partitioned, recorded, and severally assessed, 
as long as there is no dispute as to what the shares are. 

I should here add that BERAK was settled on the Bombay 

34. The Revenue-Systems of other Provinces. 

The retrospect just brought to a close embraces all the 
older, and most of the larger, provinces of India. The 
others that have special systems really need but little pre- 

1 There is also no artificial tenant there may be a superior holder 
right. In Bombay, as in all other drawing a revenue from the estate : 
provinces, there are jagir and other there the actual occupants are sub- 
' mam' holdings which are revenue- occupants, not tenants, as they do 
free, or only lightly assessed, and not hold in consequence of any con- 
occasionally other tenures in which tract with the superior. 


fatory comment. ASSAM, of which a small portion only had 
been permanently settled, when it formed part of Bengal ; 
the little province of COORG, and the great and growing 
province of BUEMA, are all of them managed under local 
systems of Land-Revenue Settlement which have this great 
advantage; they are free of all theories and artificial 
creations, with all that has elsewhere necessarily followed 
from such creations. They are (in this manual), therefore, 
classed as varieties of the RAIYATWARI system. 

But they have little or nothing in common with the sys- 
tems of Bombay and Madras, except this one thing, that 
there is no middleman landlord, or overlord, or ideal cor- 
porate body between the actual soil-occupant and the 

In the map, which indicates by different colours the area 
which each Settlement system I have been reviewing occu- 
pies, I have ventured to give the same tint to Madras and 
Bombay and Berar, because the systems differ only in de- 
tail ; but I have given a different tint to Assam and Burma, 
though I have endeavoured to indicate their connection 
with the raiyatwari system by making it a different shade 
or tint of the same colour. 


i. Modern organization of Territory. 

Perhaps I ought next to devote some space to describing 
how the various British revenue systems are worked ; how 
the records are preserved ; how the land-revenue is col- 
lected ; how questions of revenue-law and matters of 
executive management are disposed of under each system, 
and in each province. But, as a matter of fact, each 
province must, in the sequel, have a separate chapter on 
this subject, and it would be of little use to present a series 
of provincial abstracts in this place. Some of the most 

Y 2 


essential matters of management must also be further 
discussed in another connection in the remaining sections 
of this chapter. I will therefore here offer only a brief 
outline of what, with some slight modifications, is the 
general framework or basis of constitution COMMON TO ALL 
PEOVINCES, as regards their land-revenue administration. 

In all provinces the district is the starting-point. The 
Magistrate and Collector, as he is called in the Regulation 
Districts, and Deputy Commissioner, as he is called in the 
rest, is the head of the district : and he is supported by 
Assistants and Deputies, who are either general assistants 
or are in charge of subdivisions of the district, in which 
such assistants are practically chiefs, only acting under the 
general control of the district head. 

Of the multifarious duties of the District Officers I am 
not here going to speak ; they are described elsewhere 1 . 

In all provinces but Madras 2 , a varying number of 
districts forms a division, which is presided over by a 
' Commissioner.' The duties of this officer are those of 
inspection and general control in the districts ; to hear 
appeals in any case from district orders ; and to be the 
channel of communication between the district and the 
higher revenue authorities and the Government. 

At the head of the revenue-administration in Bengal, 
Madras, and the North- West Provinces, is a Board of 
Revenue ; in the Panjab there are two Financial Com- 
missioners with Secretaries, who in fact, though not in 
name, form a Board. In Burma there is a Financial 
Commissioner instead of a Board. In the Central Provinces, 
Oudh and Assam, the Chief Commissioner is himself the 
chief revenue authority. 

Under the district there are now, in all provinces, small 
local subdivisons, which are to our administration, what 

1 See, for instance, the Bengal directly with the Board of Revenue, 
chapter on Revenue Officers ; and which (as reorganized in 1886) con- 
especially see Sir John Strachey's sists of ' Commissioners ' for several 
India, Lect. X, and p. 263 et seq. departments of duty who are aggre- 

2 In Madras, the Collectorates or gated in the Board instead of pre- 
Districts are larger and are sub- siding over local areas of territory, 
divided ; the Collector corresponds 


the pargana was to the Mughal system. But they are, for 
convenience, usually made larger than the old pargana 
or taluka, and sometimes consist of several such areas 

In Bengal for a long time, as there were only a certain 
number of district Zamindars to deal with, local centres 
of revenue-management and collection were not thought 
of; but of late years, as the estates subdivided, Govern- 
ment estates became more numerous and business generally 
increased, a system of subdivisions of districts has been 
adopted, and these subdivisions are usually under Sub- 
Deputy Collectors, and are, in fact, very much like 
the tahsil subdivisions of . other provinces to be next 

In all Northern and Central India, the district (which, 
if large, may have one or more primary subdivisions) is 
always subdivided into 'tahsils/ which are groups usually 
consisting of several parganas of the older system. The 
head (native) official who receives revenue at his local 
or tahsil treasury, is called a Tahsildar. This term is in 
use in certain districts of Assam, all over the North- West 
Provinces, Oudh, the Central Provinces, the Panjab, and 
in Madras. In Bengal, the Tahsildar is only known as 
a minor official in certain special cases, as in Government 
estates, or where there are numerous small holdings. 
The Tahsildar is usually assisted by a Naib or Deputy 

In Burma there is a somewhat similar system, of course 
under Burmese nomenclature. 

In Bombay the same system obtains, except that the 
local areas are called ' talukas,' retained, I believe, without 
aggregation from the older system. The officers in charge 
are called 'mamlatdar' aided by subordinates called 
' karkun.' In Madras, the Mughal administration was not 
sufficiently generally established to make its divisions well 
known. The district subdivision is the ' taluk/ and the 
native officer is (as stated) the Tahsildar. 

The object of this universal local subdivision, in its 


slightly varying forms, is the same. The local officer 
vested with small criminal, and sometimes with civil-court 
powers has to receive the revenues of the local area, to 
keep a close watch over the agricultural and social con- 
dition of the sub-district, and to see the village officials 
are doing their duty. For this purpose the Tahsildar 
(or whatever he may be called) has not only an office and 
treasury establishment, but also a stafi of kanungos (or 
Revenue Inspectors), one of whom usually remains at the 
tahsil headquarters to compile statistics and see to the 
despatch of the proper returns to the district headquarters, 
while the others constantly move about, check the work of 
the village patwaris, and see that they do their duty in 
keeping a record of all changes in the maps, and in the 
proprietary interests as they occur by inheritance, gift 
and sale (and to some extent by mortgage), as well as in 
keeping the statistics of crops sown, and other matters 
which local rules require. 

The Agriculture and Land Record Department aids the 
district officer, especially in seeing that this important duty 
is carefully and punctually fulfilled, as it is on the proper 
performance of it that several important features of district 
administration depend. 

Some of these duties of the local establishments are of 
modern introduction ; they may be reckoned as among 
the results of the Famine Commission of 1879, but success 
is already beginning to be attained. And in the North - 
West Provinces, where the system has been longest in 
operation, the improvement in the records and statistics 
has already been very considerable. Indeed, though we 
have not yet arrived at the wished-for ideal of revisions 
of Settlement being carried out by the district staff abso- 
lutely without extraneous aid, a step in that direction 
has been taken. The cost of the latest revisions will 
hardly be one-third of what it used to be ; and both the 
labour involved and the duration of the work will be 
greatly curtailed. 

As far as the general working of the system is concerned, 


the collection of the revenue, and other branches of 
general duty, it is a matter of fact, for years past, that 
these local agencies have worked well. Sales of estates 
for revenue-arrears are now rare, and coercive processes 
seriously carried out are also rare. In most cases the issue 
of notices (' dastak ') or very temporary detentions at the 
tahsil, are quite sufficient. 

2. Other branches of the Revenue Officer's duty. 

I have purposely avoided mentioning other branches of 
work for the district staff; many, such as Excise, Stamps, 
and Registration of Assurances, are foreign altogether to 
my purpose. But even those directly and indirectly con- 
nected with land-revenue can only be enumerated. These 
are first, the disposal of matters connected with the collec- 
tion, recovery of arrears, and the suspension and remission 
of land-revenue ; next, questions of boundary, and those 
matters of land-revenue law which require to be dealt with 
by revenue-officers. In some provinces cases between land- 
lord and tenant as to enhancement, ejectment, improve- 
ments, and the like, are heard by Revenue Courts. In 
all provinces, the registration of transfers of proprietary 
interests ; the making of partitions of estates ; the manage- 
ment of estates of which Settlement has been declined, 
or which are under direct management by reason of 
default in revenue payments ; the management of estates 
of minors and others under the Court of Wards ; the special 
Settlement of alluvial areas, or measures taken for re- 
duction by reason of diluvion ; assessment of revenue-free 
areas when the estate lapses, or the assignment for life 
or lives falls in ; acquisition of land for public purposes ; 
making loans for agricultural improvements, and to aid 
cultivators for general agricultural purposes ; these are all 
matters of a Land-Revenue officer's duty. There may be also 
work in connection with the law under which certain cesses 
are levied for roads and schools and to meet the costs of 
famine relief, and in Bengal in connection with embank- 


ments a and special surveys. The Land-Revenue Administra- 
tion has also to watch the effect of the Settlements, whether 
the assessments work well or bear hardly, and to take 
note of the condition of the people, as evidenced by the 
frequency of mortgages and sales of land, and to study the 
general question of indebtedness of the agricultural 
classes. Irrigation questions and appeals regarding rights 
of water, and right of taking water- channels across land, 
also occupy no little time in canal districts ; while (in the 
Panjab, for example) schemes for the construction of canals 
in districts where the soil is good, but the rainfall is so 
scanty that canal irrigation is the only condition under 
which husbandry is possible, have led, of late years, to 
questions of colonization on an extensive scale, and of the 
location of villages under appropriate rules. Lastly, in 
certain districts, the results of local mistakes in Settle- 
ments of past years, or of the improvidence of certain 
classes, or both combined, may have also left us a legacy 
of duty in securing relief from hopeless debt, in the shape 
of several ' Encumbered Estates Acts,' or 'Raiyats' Relief 

The mere enumeration of these matters will show how 
the land-revenue administration of an Indian district is in 
fact the central part of Government, and how it comes into 
contact with almost every other branch of administration 
which can be named. 


i. Objects of Settlement. 

The duty of making or revising assessments of land- 
revenue is a separate branch ; it may be undertaken by the 
Collector, and will be more frequently so in the future ; but 

1 Embankments, i.e. by which local authorities from ancient times, 
floods are kept out of culturable is of great importance in many 
lands. This work, always laid on parts of Bengal proper. 


hitherto, a special Settlement officer (or Settlement Col- 
lector) aided by a special staff, has been employed. The 
object of a Settlement, I may repeat, is, (i) to assess the 
Land-Revenue ; (2) to furnish the officer responsible for its 
collection with a correct list of the persons by whom it is 
payable ; (3) to give those persons a secure title, and at the 
same time to secure the rights of those who hold on shares 
with them, or those who hold under them. 

At the risk of some repetition, I shall here briefly resume 
the general principles of assessment as they are developed 
in the several provinces. 

It will be observed that, while the modern land-revenue 
assessments trace back their origin to the old principle of 
the Raja's share in the produce, and derive their authority 
from that ancient custom, the actual levy of a share, or 
anything representing it, has long since been abandoned ; 
the old theory and the actual practice have been sundered 
widely apart by the changing circumstances, both of 
different provinces and different eras of history. 

If all land-tenures had remained unaltered, or had pre- 
sented uniformly the features, say, of an ordinary Madras 
village, where each cultivator deals direct with the State 
officers, responsible for no one but himself and for the crop 
his own labour has raised, then no doubt the revenue 
might long have remained, in true theory, a share of the 
produce valued in money. And, indeed, in Madras the 
land -re venue is still professedly in theory, and to some 
extent in practice, based on the value of a share in the net 
produce of land. (See Sect. vii. p. 296.) 

In Bombay, though in principle the same direct dealing 
with the cultivator is adopted, the plan has been, ever since 
1847, frankly to abandon the practice of produce-calculation. 
At the same time, the conditions of land-holding do not 
afford any possibility of finding out a rental value. In 
Bombay there is the usual preliminary division of villages 
into similarly situated groups. For each group certain 
maximum, or full, or standard, cash rates per acre of certain 
determinate kinds of soil, are worked out. The rates are 


based on a number of practical and general considerations, 
reference being had to what has been paid in the past, 
to the present increase in cultivation, general prosperity 
and rise in prices of produce: such full rates being made 
to vary in each group with reference to the relative 
advantages of each. But, before applying these full or 
standard rates (for each group), every field is classified by a 
skilful and practised staff, and valued relatively, according to 
its kind, and according to various circumstances which add 
to or diminish its value individually. The result is that the 
value of each field is nicely graduated on a scale extending 
from a minimum up to the full rate : the scale is expressed 
in ' annas ' or fractions according to the common practice. 
Supposing, then, the 'full rate,' applicable to the group, 
is, for a given soil, as above, R-3 : then a field belonging 
to such order of soil, and of such depth, and so free from 
accidental defects that it ranks as ' 16 annas,' its rate will be 
R. 3 ; but should the soil be of less depth, or of an inferior 
grade, and subject to defects, then it may only rank as 
' 4 annas,' and therefore pay only one-fourth of the R. 3. 
That is the plan of valuing land as land watered only 
by the rain of heaven. If in such land there is irrigation 
from a tank or by 'lift' from a river, or by well, such 
irrigation-advantages may be taken into account by rates 
charged in excess of the ' dry -rate ' ; if it is ' garden ' land, 
i.e. brought by long culture, manure, and watering, up to 
a high standard, it will pay rates of its own; and so 
if it is permanent ' wet ' or rice land. 

In the Temporarily Settled provinces, where the whole 
village is dealt with as the unit, the assessment is in one 
sum, which is, however, distributed among the co- sharers 
according to their constitution ; so that the separate pay- 
ments are just as well known as under the raiyatwari 

The first Settlements date from a time when the ' aggregate 
to detail' method of assessment in use in the North -West 
Provinces, and advocated in Thomason s well-known Direc- 
tions to Settlement Officers was the common one. In practice, 


a lump sum was estimated for the ' pargana,' or a circle of 
similarly-situated villages (assessment-circle), and then this 
sum was divided so as to give the amount for each village. 
There were three real grounds for fixing this sum -first, the 
knowledge of what sums had been paid in the past (with the 
additional fact that they had been paid with ease or the 
reverse) ; secondly, the rise in general prices, population, 
increase of advantages in the matter of wells, roads to 
market, &c. These considerations suggested that the total 
might be increased, or maintained as it was, or possibly 
diminished. Thirdly, there was the general sense of a locally 
experienced officer that such a sum would be fair, the esti- 
mate having been arrived at after careful inspection, inquiry 
among the people, and consultation with experienced native 
subordinates. These grounds, however, had to be more 
elaborately justified in the Assessment Reports, in which 
various rate calculations were set out, tending to check 
and to illustrate or justify the general totals proposed. 

The proposed village totals would then be worked back- 
wards into the form of rates on the acre of each different 
kind of soil (according to a fixed classification), and the 
rates would be justified by comparing them with rates 
got out by estimating produce, and valuing one-sixth 1 
of the gross produce at average prices, by calculating 
a fair rate on the number of ploughs in the village, and 
so forth. Under this method, the revenue was not abso- 
lutely divorced from the old idea of a share of the produce, 
and it is confidently believed (in the Panjab, for example) 
that our land-revenue can be stated to represent not more 
than the traditional sixth at the outside, probably in many 
cases not more than a tenth or twelfth, of the gross 

1 One-sixth, because it was roughly lord's share : so that the Govern- 

estimated, that of the total produce ment revenue share was fifty per 

two-thirds represented the cul- cent, or one-half of the latter, 
tivator's and one-third the land- 


2. Later Methods of Assessment. 

But in the North -West Provinces, Oudh, and the Central 
Provinces, a totally new element had gradually been 
introduced. In these provinces the landlord classes were 
largely non-agriculturist, and in consequence the land 
was mostly cultivated by tenants, and the rents thus 
realized from the land came to be more and more com- 
monly paid in cash. At the present day the cases where 
grain-rents are paid are insignificant (and the means 
of ascertaining a cash-rate by comparison are easy) ; so 
that the system is not altered by such exceptional cases. 

The growth of tenant-cultivation and the use of cash- 
rents were very important changes in the constitution of 
agricultural society. And gradually they affected assess- 
ment principles. In fact we may reckon four stages of 
assessment rule development. The first was marked by 
the attempt to value produce, which I have alluded to 
as characteristic of the early working of Regulation VII of 
1822 ; it was, in fact, a clinging to the idea of finding out 
a proper share of the produce and valuing it in money. The 
year 1833 marks the second period, when the produce 
idea was given up, and an attempt was made to obtain 
a direct cash valuation of the estates, with more or less 
reference to the rental value. This was the old ' aggregate 
to detail ' method, and consisted in roughly calculating out 
a gross rental of the estate, and taking two-thirds of it as 
the revenue. 

The third period is marked by a great improve- 
ment in the method of classifying soils, and in an 
attempt to fix more scientifically the rent-paying capacity 
of each class. This I may call the stage of scientifically 
estimating what rent ought to be, and taking a share 
reduced to fifty per cent. of the ideal ' rental.' * 

1 I quote the following from an paid were, in theory at least, dis- 
able article in the Pioneer (June ai, regarded. The main feature of the 
1884). Speaking of the ' ideal ' rent Settlement . . . was that the process 
system, the author says : employed in the preceding Settle- 

' The individual rents actually ment was exactly reversed. Rent 


The fourth and last stage I shall speak of when I come 
to mention the latest policy of the Imperial Government 
regarding future revisions of Settlement, viz. those now in 
progress, or, speaking generally, since 1881. It will be 
sufficient here to state briefly that it abandoned the ideal 
rent for the natural or actual rent. 

The abandonment of the elaborate method which is 
associated with the honoured names of C. A. Elliott and 
other eminent Settlement Officers of the last North -West 
Provinces Settlement, does not imply any disparagement 
of the skill and ability of its authors, 

' It is owing ' (writes Mr. Fuller, himself the author of an 
improved method of assessment in the Central Provinces) ' to 
their (the Settlement officers') labours and to their ability that 
assessments were made which were an immense improvement 
on what preceded, and under which the country has generally 
prospered. But the circumstances on which the value of land 
depends are so numerous, so diverse, and often so occult, that, 
however great be the talents or energy of the Settlement officer, 
it is impossible that he should not occasionally slip into error : 
and a single error on a point of detail may vitiate a whole 
assessment. It is notorious that past assessments have from 
the outset pressed unequally on the people. No sooner has 
a Settlement been completed than it has become a matter of 
common report that such and such a village has fared badly, 
whilst others have got off very lightly the all-sufficient ex- 
planation to native minds lying in the temper of the Settlement 
officer (MMm ki mimj}-" 

rates were based on the actual rents the atrophied relics of a disused 

found to be paid by cultivators in theory. Each then of these three 

the neighbourhood, and were then Settlements rested on a different 

applied to the lands of each village, basis, the first on the produce 

which had been minutely classified, and its value ; the second on gross 

so as to correspond with the various rents assumed for large areas ; the 

rates of rent which were, or were last on special rents paid for indi- 

supposed to be, paid for each kind vidual fields ; and each successive 

of soil. Crop rates were still worked stage was an approximation to the 

out on calculations of the gross pro- true theory of our present land- 

duce and its value, but they were revenue, namely, that instead of 

not professed to be used except as dealing with the cultivator we deal 

checks on the rates based on actual with the proprietor, and instead of 

rents, and in fact they were hardly taking a share of the produce we 

used at all. They were merely take a share of a natural rent.' 


3. The latest system of Assessment. 

The North- West Provinces districts that are now being 
settled have, of course, been settled several times before. 
Therefore, in most of them very little in the way of 
re-survey or record of rights is required. But the revision 
of the assessment is now conducted solely on the basis of 
the rents actually paid. The account has, of course, still 
to be completed, by applying rent rates to the proprietors' 
sir lands (with an allowance of from ten to fifteen per cent, 
below full tenant rates) ; by applying rents to lands held at 
favourable rates, or at no rent at all ; and by correcting any 
manifest defects or errors in the rent-roll. 

Provision is also made for cases where the recorded 
rent-rolls fraudulently misrepresent facts, or are otherwise 
inaccurate or unreliable. 

In short, though the assets are now to depend on the 
actual rental, irrespective of allowance for extension of 
cultivation, or anticipated enhancements, still it is to be an 
actual rental, not one which represents imaginary rents, 
below what are paid, or excludes land from the account 
without showing any rent at all. 

In the Panjdb, the latest method of assessment still 
remains different from this. We cannot make use of 
rentals of the estates, because the bulk of the land is not 
rented, and what is rented pays ' batdi,' or rent in grain. 
At the same time, the old plan of assessing the aggregate 
revenue first, and then distributing it, and the subsequent 
practice of relying on the valuation of one-sixth of the 
produce, is completely given up. The assessing officer has 
therefore to determine for each class of soil, in each assess- 
ment circle, rates per acre, which are direct revenue rates. 

These have to be sanctioned before being made use of in 
actual assessment, and when so made use of can be modi- 
fied to meet peculiar requirements of individual estates, 
requirements, that is, of a special character, and not already 
provided for by the grouping into circles for assessment 


There is still no method of finding out the rates which 
dispenses with personal opinion and sense of fitness ; but 
the rates that are proposed can start with the basis that 
there are existing rates, and primd facie these are to be 
raised (or it may be lowered) on a consideration of the 
history of the circle and its prevalent prices since the last 

Then again, rates that first suggest themselves are tested 
by a variety of calculations ; and it is worthy of remark 
that the rules of 1888 now distinctly direct that as a 
test of rates, an average tenant holding in each soil-class 
should be selected, and the rent, if it is in cash, accurately 
ascertained ; or, if it is paid in grain, then the grain is to be 
valued in money at a fair average price. On this basis 
estimates of the landlord's share, or produce rent (and the 
Government half) per acre, are drawn up for each of the 
different soil-classes. This shows that circumstances are 
beginning to admit of tenants' rents being made more use of, 
in calculation ; and it is also to be pointed out that such 
estimates have one great value they afford a good idea of 
the relative value of different soils or different modes of 

But perhaps the most interesting development is that of 
the assessment method devised for the Government Settle- 
ments in the Central Provinces. 

It may be observed, that in the North- West Provinces, 
though the Settlement officer calculates tenants' rents in 
order to obtain his valuation of estates, in theory he had 
nothing to do with fixing rates that the tenants were 
actually bound to pay. That was supposed to be done by 
the consent of the parties, and by recourse to the Rent 
Courts under the Tenant Law. As a matter of fact how- 
ever, the Settlement officers did do a very great deal, 
though informally, to help the people to a settlement of the 
rents consequent on the new assessment. But in the Central 
Provinces the law has so limited the rights of the pro- 
prietors of villages as regards the old tenants, that it also 
was necessary by law to provide that the Settlement 


officers should formally and legally determine fair rents. 
Hence it was desirable to strike out a method which should 
fix tenants' rents equably, and at the same time enable the 
Government share of the rental-assets to be assessed with- 
out further trouble. 

Unfortunately it has been the great difficulty of all 
Settlement calculations, that rates, however carefully tested, 
will fall unequally. The surveyor and classifier can take 
note of palpable differences of situation, and distinct kinds 
and varieties of soil ; but besides these, there are a hundred 
other circumstances which affect value, some of which defy 
explanation. It was desired to see whether some steps 
could not be taken to compare the rents paid in one 
village with those paid in another, so that there could not 
only be a positive increase (or decrease) where needed, but 
also an equalization of one estate with another. 

Mr. Fuller, B.C.S., who had been assistant to Sir E. 
Buck in the North -West Provinces, was appointed to 
direct the new Settlements in the Central Provinces, and 
he devised a system which is working very well. This 
system is described in detail in the proper chapter of the 
sequel ; here I can only generally indicate its principle. 

The actual rents paid in different villages on different 
classes of soil are first carefully ascertained ; and, so far, it 
can at once be seen (individually) whether they are too 
low or too high ; and if too low, up to what they can fairly 
be enhanced. For we can compare the rates within the 
village, with what, under the circumstances, they might be 
expected to be. For instance : the present rental is found 
to be only very slightly in excess of what it was at the 
beginning of the expiring Settlement: yet during the 
period, cultivation has extended aoo per cent., and prices 
(suppose) have doubled ; here, unless there are special 
reasons, the rental may be considerably raised. But this 
does not enable us to compare the rents of one village with 
those of another ; in order to do this, the soils of both must 
be reduced to a ' common denominator'; for we could not 
compare the results (taking an all-round rate per acre) 


unless the villages were alike in classes of soil, and in the 
proportion of each class of soil in each village area, which, 
of course, is rarely or never the case. But if we can 
ascertain that one class of land stands, as regards its pro- 
ductiveness, in a certain relation to another, then we can 
reduce the area of a village to a number of ' soil-units ' of 
equal value. Suppose, for instance, a village A consists of 
1000 acres and pays a total rental of R. 1000, and that 
a village B has the same acreage and same total rental : 


But A's area consists of j 3 ' bl <J c , k ' SQl1 j = x O oo 
( 700 ' red ,, \ 

B's area consists of \ 6o \ bl * ck " } = 1,000 
( 400 ' red ,, \ 

Now, by observation, careful experiment as to actual 
produce on calculated areas, and inquiry, it is found that 
the productiveness of ' black ' to ' red ' is as 20 : 1 2 

Soth a tin^! 300X20= 

( 700 X 12 = 8,400 

14,400 soil-units of equal value. 

A , . T. ( 600x20 = 12,000 
And 111 B i 

( 400 x 12 = 4,800 


We can now compare how the equal rental of R. icoo 
falls ; for by dividing R. icoo by the total soil-units of 
each, we find that A's rate per soil-unit comes out rn anna, 
while .B's comes out at 0-95 anna. The difficulty is to work 
out the proper ' soil-factor ' or number by which each 
acreage of class of soil must be multiplied to reduce it to 
a common denominator of equal productivity. 

But this factor can be calculated for an entire tahsil and 
can then be used by slightly modifying the results to 
provide for special and local features in individual villages 
or groups of villages. 

The tables prepared for the villages in each circle, will 
show the actual incidence per soil-unit ; the unit-rate as it 
ought to be on general considerations, in comparison with 

VOL. i. z 


other villages ; and the actual unit-rate adopted with 
reference to any peculiarity in the village itself. In many 
tables I find this last is something less than the second, 
because of the caste or condition of the tenants, or some 
other special consideration of the kind. Thus, for instance, 
we may have an actual incidence per soil-unit of 0*65 anna ; 
but with reference to increase in assets (extended area of 
cultivation, rents having risen, &c.), the incidence might 
fairly be 0*80 ; but from considerations of the actual state 
of the tenantry, the Settlement Officer will recommend 0-70 
as the rate to be adopted. Of course, given this rate and 
the soil-factors, it is a mere matter of arithmetic to take 
out the actual rent per acre of each soil in the village as 
shown in the map and field index. 

4. Element of intuitive calculation in Assessment 


"With all these different methods, it is apt to be supposed 
that, after all, Settlement is very much a matter of indi- 
vidual taste and opinion, and that the elaborate tables and 
calculations do not produce much but expense and long 
report- writing. There is, no doubt, in every assessment, a 
point where it comes to taking a certain figure, which implies 
an element of personal judgment the intuitive conclusion 
of a trained mind accustomed to the work. But such 
conclusions are tested after they originate, so that they are 
practically satisfactory. 

All Settlement systems of a modern kind depend on 
having an accurate survey of every field grouping of 
villages into ! assessment circles ' or something equivalent 
according to general similarity of position and advantages, 
and a complete classification of soils whereby every field 
can be referred to a certain class, for which an appropriate 
rate is worked out. 

What that rate is to be, is calculated under the different 
systems in different ways. In a country rented by tenants, it 
depends on the rent actually paid, correcting the record 


where it is not a real or full rent that is shown ; and supplying 
a proper figure where the land does not pay rent. In other 
places, it is a rate derived from general considerations of past 
payments in relation to subsequent rise in prices and im- 
proved condition, generally checked by estimates of produce 
or rental receipts. In others again it approximates more 
to a rate representing the half of the actual ' net produce ' 
(produce after allowing for all costs and profits of labour). 
In most systems the acreage rate represents rather the net 
income, than an actual net produce valued in money ; and 
the general rule is that from 45-55 per cent, of the calcu- 
lated net income is the Land-Revenue. 

Originally the person responsible for the revenue was 
content to pay ninety per cent, and retain ten per cent. ; 
he made his profit in other ways. Even when under 
British law, he was first called ' proprietor ' and it might 
seem that a proprietor was hardly to be so called if 
he had to pay so heavy a share to the State, it must be 
remembered that the proprietary right was a pure gift of 
which one person (or one body] was not to get the whole 
benefit ; and further that the ' assets ' of which he gave up 
ninety per cent., did not really represent anything like his 
whole receipts. As the systems became more searching in 
their calculations, the percentage was reduced, at first to 
sixty-six per cent, or two -thirds, and then lower still *. 

But, to return to the calculation of assets or the rates 
which represent assets per acre. There must necessarily be 
a point where estimation guess-work if the term is pre- 
ferred comes in. No rule can possibly be laid down as to 
whether a certain soil should pay i R. or i R. 8 a. or i R. ica. 
per acre : a sense of fitness under all the conditions of the 
case, arising in the mind of a practical officer who has 
carefully inspected the land map and note-book in hand, 
must begin the work ; but if the figure is not justifiable, its 
error will surely appear when we come to apply the rates 

1 And where, as in some cases in only a nominal proprietor, and glad 

Bengal, it still remains at seventy to collect at a remuneration of thirty 

per cent., it is where the person per cent., while the tenantry get a 

holding the Settlement is really larger share of the total. 

Z 2 


to the whole village or circle, and compare the results with 
existing payments and test them in various ways. And in 
Bombay the test is mainly applied by having the relative 
value of fields fixed on certain definite principles, so that 
if the full rate is at all accurate, the individual valuation 
of fields is almost a matter of arithmetic. 

All systems insist on the rates being reported and justi- 
fied, before actually put into force ; and therefore, though 
the rates may be initiated to some extent by more or less 
arbitrary methods, they are not used till their resulting 
totals are tested and examined on data which are quite 
sound and satisfactory, while the results are made to conform 
to principles of equitable taxation laid down by Government. 

5. ' Cesses' 

Properly speaking, we are concerned only with the ' land- 
revenue,' but it may be convenient to explain that in many 
Settlement Records another charge will be found entered. 
The co-sharer in a village, for example, is entered as paying 
for his field say 15 rupees, of which 13 R. is ' mal ' or land- 
revenue, and 2 R. is ' siwai ' or cesses. The cesses were from 
an early date levied to pay for certain public works which 
benefited the locality only, and were not, therefore, properly 
a charge against the Imperial Land-Revenue l . 

The ' cesses ' are levied at the present day under local 


Before I pass on to some other matters of importance 
connected with land-revenue administration, I feel that it is 
almost unavoidable to give some further detail regarding 

1 The land-revenue proper is, for army, home charges, &c., and the 

budget purposes, divided between local treasures of the different pro- 

the Imperial treasury to meet vinces, for general provincial expen- 

Imperial or general charges, like the diture. 


the proposal to assess the land-revenues of provinces once 
and for all. Probably there are now very few persons of 
Indian experience who are likely to entertain any such pro- 
position with favour ; and for official purposes the question 
is dead and buried. But from time to time such questions 
recrudesce ; and dressed up in showy and plausible argu- 
ments, they are made use of to the bewilderment of persons 
to whom the facts of the case are not familiar. I believe 
that a few pages devoted to the actual history of the ques- 
tion during the last twenty years, and to a plain statement 
of some of the leading considerations on the merits of the 
discussion, will not be without their use, nor wholly devoid 
of interest, especially to the non-official reader. 

i. Official History of the Question. 

This question arose for the second time with reference to 
the Settlements of the North- Western Provinces 1 . 

When the thirty years' Settlements made under the 
Regulations of 1822 and 1833 began to fall in, the country 
was still suffering from the effects of the disorder produced 
by the Mutiny, and by the famine and cholera of 1860. 
Under such gloomy circumstances, the districts came up to 
be re-settled for a new term. The report on the famine of 
1 860-61 by Colonel Baird Smith, struck the key-note of 
praising the moderate assessments of the past Settlements, 
and treating them as an instalment of a gift which would 
be completed by making the moderate assessment permanent. 
The light assessments had enabled people to bear up against 
the famines in the last year better than they had done in 
the famine of 1837-38 ; and it was urged that if the assess- 
ment was made, not for thirty years but for ever, it would 
achieve still greater success. This report received, at the 
time, a good deal of commendation. There is, however, no 

1 I am indebted throughout to and Co.). A collection of official 

Mr. (now Sir A.) Colvin's admirable papers regarding the Permanent 

Memorandum on the Revision of Settlement was also reprinted in 

Land Revenue in the North-Western 1879. 
Provinces, 1872 (Calcutta : Wyman 


sufficient reason to assume that the permanence of a Settle- 
ment has anything whatever to do either with the improve- 
ment of the land or the happiness of the people. And there 
are other considerations which the Report ignored. But the 
pendulum of general and official opinion swings in a long 
course from side to side in these revenue-administration 
questions, permanency, tenant-right, and so forth ; and at 
that period it was again on the descent towards the Per- 
manent-Settlement side. It also happened that, in 1861, 
attention had been attracted to the unexploited waste lands 
of India. Forest conservancy had not then come under the 
public notice, and even if it had, the area of waste available 
for cultivation was large. Lord Canning, then Governor- 
General, wrote a minute on the subject ; and it was argued 
that if the lands were sold free of any revenue demand, it 
would encourage their occupation and draw capital to this 
source of expected profit. 

And naturally, from the question of occupying waste lands 
free of revenue charge, the Govern or -General's remarks 
passed on to the possible advantages of a general redemp- 
tion of the land-revenue on estates already occupied. The 
redemption was to be effected by paying up in one sum the 
prospective value of the revenue demand. On this, the 
Board of Revenue in the North -West Provinces advocated 
a permanent settlement (for, of course, the revenue must be 
permanently assessed before it could be redeemed). The 
Secretary of State, however, in 1862, rejected the policy of 
a redemption of land-revenue, but said he would listen to 
proposals for a permanent Settlement. 

It needs no lengthened explanation to understand that so 
long as a district is not fully cultivated, and there is any 
serious prospect of alteration in its economic position, an 
assessment hastily made permanent must be ever after 
regretted. The form the problem took in 1862 was What 
are the conditions which must be fulfilled seriatim before 
a district can be fit for a final revision of assessment, so that 
there need be no further change ? At first it was assumed 
that when a careful revision of the existing (and then 


expiring) rates had been effected, and when no considerable 
increase of cultivation in future was probable, a permanent 
assessment might be practicable. 

In 1 864 the terms were fqrmulated by the Government of 
India (and were modified at home in 1 865). The condition was 
laid down that eighty per cent, of the culturable area should 
have been brought under cultivation, and then that the rate 
of permanent assessment need not be as low as fifty per cent, 
of the net assets (the rate at which the revenue demand had 
previously been fixed by the ordinary Settlement rules). 
But this was not satisfactory ; and in 1867 another condition 
was added, regarding the probability of canal irrigation 
being extended to the lands in the next twenty years. This, 
of course, largely alters the rate of produce and the value 
of the land. 

Then, it seems, officers were set to work to find out what 
districts or parts of districts could be permanently settled 
under these conditions. But in 1869 some cases came up 
(in the course of the inquiry) in which it was demon- 
strated that although the conditions were satisfied there 
would be a great prospective loss to Government by making 
the assessment permanent. Accordingly a third condition 
was recommended. The Government of India, in concur- 
ring, went so far as to say, what practically amounted to 
this, that a permanent Settlement should be deferred so 
long as the land continued to improve in value by any 
causes which were not the direct result of the occupant's 
own efforts. 

It does not seem to have occurred to the supporters of 
the idea of a permanent Settlement, that it would be possi- 
ble to secure all or nearly all the advantages, whatever they 
are, without the disadvantages of fixing a limit which no 
matter what new combinations the future may produce 
can never be altered. Still less did it seem to them 
necessary to be very cautious (in India) when we prophesy 
what will be the results, in the future, of any given pro- 
posal. For instance, let us refer to the difficulty which 
arises when a cash assessment is fixed for ever, and a fall in 


the value of money occurs. The reader of the present day 
will peruse with something like amazement, the remark in 
Sir Charles Wood's despatch of 1862, that the 'fall in the 
value of money was not of sufficient moment to influence 
the judgment of Her Majesty's Government to any material 
extent. Prices were unlikely to rise greatly : even if they 
should rise, the Government of India might easily find 
sources of income other than the land 1 .' 

But to continue : the practical outcome of the discussion 
at the time, was (as I have said) that a searching inquiry 
into the condition of districts was to be made, to see really 
what districts were in a condition that would satisfy the 
requirements of the case. Before this was completed, the 
very difficulty which Sir Charles Wood treated so lightly, 
actually overtook us ; the increasing depreciation of silver 
had begun seriously to embarrass the Indian Government ; 
and the financial position afforded unmistakeable proof of 
the danger of attaching permanency to a money-assessment. 
For a time the subject dropped. But in 1882, it finally 
came up again in connection with the Kesolution which 
the Government of India issued on the subject of reform 
in the procedure of Settlements. The key-note of this 
was, the possibility of securing the advantages derivable 
from a permanent Settlement, without abandoning the un- 
questioned claim of Government to share in the increase 
resulting from improvements made by itself, and from a 
general rise in prices. 

As far as a question of permanent Settlement (pure and 
simple) is concerned, the Government of India despatch 

1 As a matter of fact, nothing is taking a share from the produce of 

more difficult than to ' find the land, so also he gives him a share 

other sources.' While provision of the increase of the merchant and 

has now to be made for making an the manufacturer. (Chap. vii. 127- 

increasing charge in the Budget for 131 ; x. 120, &c.) The land-revenue 

loss by exchange, the subjects of becoming more and more in effect a 

taxation are extremely limited. The tax on agricultural income, the tax 

Income-tax, or a tax on trades and on other incomes is its direct and 

professions, is the main alternative, logical counterpart. However this 

but it presents great difficulties. may be, it is certainly not easy to 

Nevertheless, it is interesting to mark find other sources of revenue, 
that, as Manu contemplates the king 


elicited from the Secretary of State a reply l which, after 
admitting the difficulty of finding other sources of revenue, 
noticing the change that had come over the financial posi- 
tion, and acknowledging that the anticipations of benefit 
from the permanent Settlement in Bengal had not been 
realised, concluded: 

' I concur with Your Excellency's Government that the 
policy laid down in 1862 should now be formally abandoned.' 

And in writing to the North-Western Provinces Govern- 
ment the Government of India said 2 : 

' It is sufficient for present purposes to announce that Her 
Majesty's Secretary of State has now definitely agreed with 
the Government of India in rejecting the policy of a perma- 
nent Settlement pure and simple.' 

2. General reflections on the principle of permanence. 

It is no part of this work, intended for practical purposes, 
to enter into discussions of principles. I desire to give the 
results rather than the details of controversies. At the 
same time, in a matter like this, which has so often been 
misrepresented, I may be pardoned for adding a few 
remarks. It would be difficult, in a thorough and unpre- 
judiced inquiry which went beyond mere phrases, to 
discover any real argument for a permanent Settlement 
I mean an argument in which the perpetuity of the assess- 
ment is the essential point except the one that all future 
costs of re-settlement and all harassment to the people would 
be avoided. All other arguments (as far as they are not 
merely prophetic of imagined results) may at once be 
admitted, only they are equally true of any Settlement for 
which a fair term of duration is provided. And as regards 
the one argument which is real, the benefit is surely far 
outweighed by the admitted sacrifice of revenue, when it 

1 Despatch No. 24, dated 28th 2 No. 525 R., dated gth May, 1883. 

March, 1883. 


is remembered that the process of re-settlement can, by 
judicious arrangements, be so carried out as to be very 
slightly, if at all, vexatious, and its cost reduced to a 

As regards the 'prophetic arguments' the hoped-for 
creation of a prosperous middle class, the improvement of 
the land and the growth of other sources of State income, 
expected from the permanent assessment, the experience 
(under most favourable conditions) in Bengal and Benares, 
shows that as a fact, though the assessment has become very 
light, nothing of the kind has happened 1 . As regards the 
greater encouragement to agriculture, and to the expendi- 
ture of capital on irrigation and other landlords' improve- 
ments, as a matter of fact, in no single province or district 
has a permanent Settlement been known to have any such 

In the first place it may be asked (with one of the 
Collectors in the North -Western Provinces) as to improve- 
ments made by landlords, where, as a rule, are they ? 
Generally, they are made at the expense of the cultivating- 
tenants, at any rate in the end. And certainly where 
landlords do make improvements, little difference can be 
detected between permanently-settled and other estates. 
Here and there, a landlord makes improvements, because 

1 Nothing can be more curious Moreover, under native custom, 
than the results of a low assessment, properties become subdivided and 
whether fixed for ever or not. In again subdivided, till their value 
one large district, at least, where a is frittered away ; the money- 
low assessment was secured for lender steps in, and land again 
thirty years, the result has been, begins to aggregate in the hands of 
not that a wealthy class has arisen, a class alien to agricultural know- 
but that simply all restraint has ledge and interests. All these eco- 
vanished, and the poor population nomical questions, interesting as 
has multiplied to such an extent they are, are necessarily beyond the 
that the wealth accumulated is not scope of my book. I must only add 
more able to support the increased the notorious fact that in well- 
mass of people than the former re- managed Native States, where the 
sources were to feed the then exist- revenue is double, perhaps four 
ing numbers. In other words, ten times as high as in the British dis- 
men have not grown rich by the tricts, the people are apparently as 
rise of their income from R. 1000 to prosperous : only that, to be sure, 
R. 10,000, but a thousand persons their power of transferring their 
have appeared instead of ten, to land is very limited, and there are 
live on the increased amount. no pleaders and few law courts ! 


he is an enlightened man, but it depends on the man. not 
on the supposed security 1 . 

Mr. J. R. Reid, Secretary to the Government, North- 
Western Provinces, giving his personal experience, wrote 
in 1873: 

' According to theory one should find estates like these (per- 
manently settled) in the most flourishing condition, with all 
manner of improvements introduced, and landlords very well 
to do, and most liberal to their tenants. But, in fact, in riding 
through these villages, and through the parganas generally, 
you would not detect anything in the appearance of the people 
and land, in the number of wells and other means of irriga- 
tion, the kind and look of the crops, the size of the houses, the 
air and condition of the people and cattle, to make you suspect 
that the (permanently-settled) land-owners enjoy a different 
tenure from their neighbours of similar caste 2 and condition 
in temporarily-settled estates. There is as much capital laid 
out and industry bestowed on the land in the one set of estates 
as in the other.' 

I could multiply testimony to the same effect ; but the 
fact does not really admit of dispute. 

This matter of improvements is connected directly with 
another question, which is not usually noticed by the advo- 
cates of a permanent Settlement. Does any landholder 
really believe in or realize, permanency 1 For example, 
will any one seriously contend that, looking at all the ups 
and downs of history, a Zamindar in 1793 f^olized that the 
Government would last for ever, or even for a long period 
of years ? Would not a promise of fixity for thirty or 

1 I would call attention to the upset by the Special Commission, as 

curious case noted in the chapter on an unjustifiable one. Yet the Kajti, 

North- Western Provinces tenures, during the years he held, made im- 

of the great improvements made by provements on the most liberal 

a Kaja of Benares, in the pargana scale, which doubled his rental, 
of Bara (Allahabad), of which he 2 He mentions similarity of caste ; 

was merely the auction-purchaser because, for purposes of comparison , 

at a sale for arrears of revenue in if the caste is altogether different, 

1820. Not only was there no kind the result might be put down to 

of permanence about his Settlement, that. Some castes are by nature 

but the question of inquiry into good thrifty cultivators ; others 

revenue sales was then in the air, slovenly and bad : there is no 

and this very sale was ultimately ignoring the fact. 


twenty years, even then, have seemed to him a period 
longer than he could count on ? And at the present day, 
do the mass of unlettered but hard-working petty land- 
owners ever think of anything so remote as fifty years 
hence, still less realize the idea of permanency, and act 
upon it 1 ? 

But even if it were otherwise, what possible right has 
one Government to bind (and seriously embarrass) its suc- 
cessors for all time ? The effect of a permanent Settlement 
is practically this, that the Government of the day selects 
a certain class of estate or a special province, and says 
' You shall never be called on to bear more than a certain 
share of the public burdens, no matter what your neigh- 
bours pay.' Of course, I am aware that other, and especially 
indirect, taxes may be imposed, but practically, in Bengal 
for instance, what are they ? It is a fair estimate to make, 
that at present, for no conceivable reason, the class of 
Bengal landlords is contributing (proportionately) to the 
public expenditure, less than one-third of what any one 
else pays 2 . 

On the whole, therefore, it is impossible not to conclude 
that in theory, as binding future Governments and exempt- 
ing certain classes from part of the burthen of taxation, 

1 As the Collector of Gorakhpur cumstances, indispensable, it must 

remarks ' Revenue-free estates i^in be paid by some class or other, and 

many the revenue is altogether re- no historical justification can get 

mitted, be it remembered, in per- rid of the essential injustice of an 

petuity) are as secure as they can be, arrangement by which those who 

but I do not find that this security benefit most by the administra- 

adds to their selling value. Revenue- tion should contribute least to its 

free and revenue-paying estates cost.' 

alike sell according to their imme- It is interesting to note that as 

diate profits.' early as Col. Wilks' time (The History 

a On this subject I may quote Mr. of Mysore was published about 1817) 
Justice H. S. Cunningham in an this aspect of a Permanent Settle- 
article on Indian Finance in the ment was not unperceived. Thus 
Asiatic Quarterly Review (April 1888). Col. Wilks wrote (History, p. 123), 
He says : ' AJI English Chancellor of the Ex- 

' The question has sometimes been chequer who should presume to 

asked whether a compact so in- pledge the national faith to an un- 

herently inequitable as the Per- alterable tax, might captivate the 

manent Settlement, can be main- multitude, but would be smiled at 

tained under the altered conditions by the financiers of Europe ; yet 

of succeeding times ... A certain principles do not alter in traversing 

expenditure being, in existing cir- the ocean.' 


and not applied universally, the declaration of a per- 
manently fixed land-tax is inadmissible. Further, that in 
practice, a general, unchangeable, assessment has no advan- 
tages which are not equally to be secured by a moderate 
assessment for a fairly long term of years. What that 
term should be, depends on a variety of considerations, 
local, as well as of principle ; and though a certain concur- 
rence of practice has resulted in thirty years or twenty 
years as an usual period, Government has wisely refused, 
by either legislative enactment or otherwise, to stereotype 
any rule. The circumstances of the Central Provinces have 
only recently demonstrated that periods from twelve to 
twenty years for the new Settlements, will be practically 
the best. 

As to imaginary or anticipated encouragements and 
advantages to agriculture, it is idle to refer to them in 
the face of nearly a century's experience of what has 
happened in provinces where the experiment has been 
tried, and tried under very favourable circumstances. It 
certainly is high time that this 'policy' should now be 
regarded as 'formally abandoned.' 


Having thus sketched the development of the provincial 
land-revenue systems, the remainder of this ' General ' 
chapter will deal, without reference to particular pro- 
vinces (unless they are expressly named), with certain 
important matters of modern revenue-administration, which 
have of late years come into prominence chiefly as the 
result of the inquiry into the whole subject of land-revenue 
administration which was made by the Famine Commission 
in 1879. It is hardly needed to point out that, except in 
limited tracts, the failure of the summer or autumn rains 
(as the case may be) brings famine as the great scourge of 
agricultural life in the Indian provinces. Serious famines 


in 1866 and in 1877-78 not to speak of others led to the 
most earnest desire, first, to perfect a system of organized 
relief when famine actually occurs, and for this purpose to 
compile ' Famine Codes ' giving the results of experience as 
to what is to be done and how to do it ; but still more (in 
the second place) to see what could be done to put the 
administration in a state of preparedness against the oc- 
currence of bad years. To effect this object the entire 
land administration machinery had to be overhauled, and 
all agricultural conditions reviewed. If I were asked to 
summarise, in a few words, what has been the most useful 
outcome of the reforms recommended, I should say, the 
perfection of the local official machinery and of the records 
of fact which their work makes available for administra- 
tive purposes. 

Without this knowledge of facts, you cannot have the 
difficulties of re-settlement overcome ; you cannot have 
famine warning; you cannot have any agricultural im- 
provement ; and you cannot have good revenue-adminis- 

In order, therefore, to organize agricultural inquiry and 
record, and to improve revenue-administration, two things 
were necessary. A series of Provincial Departments 
charged with this special business, and an Imperial Depart- 
ment to guide and direct the general aims of each local 
centre of administration, without, of course, derogating 
either from the responsibility or the power of the Local 
Governments. Provincial Departments require a sys- 
tematizing and controlling head ; their necessary supplement 
is an Imperial department ; and it may be justly said that 
one is of little use without the other. 

I do not undervalue the importance of the labour which 
has given us a Famine Code ; but that is outside the scope 
of this manual. And therefore I may seem to ignore one 
part of the Famine Commissioners' work, and only put 
forward what they intended to be a secondary object. 

The Famine Commission was naturally more directly 
concerned with famine, its prevention and cure. It was 


therefore proposed that the Agricultural Department in 
each province should have three primary objects, agri- 
cultural inquiry, agricultural improvement, and organiza- 
tion of famine relief. But it is obvious that there are 
other duties which the Government, looking beyond the 
single subject of famine, must require. In the first place, 
famines are not universal, and are happily only occa- 
sional, even in provinces subject to them. There are 
some whole provinces (like Assam) and parts of others, 
where anything like real famine is hardly known ; never- 
theless, there is ample scope for an Agricultural Depart- 
ment. Moreover, ' improvements in agriculture ' cannot be 
effected in a short time. Too great a zeal is apt to cost 
much and come to very little. Before we can 'improve,' 
we must have full information as to facts. Agricultural 
inquiry must precede agricultural improvement. 

And agricultural inquiry is equally important for famine 
purposes. ' The success of an Agricultural Department 
would mainly depend,' said the Famine Commission, ' on 
the completeness and accuracy with which agricultural and 
economic facts are collected in each village, and compiled 
in each subdivision and district throughout the country. 
Without a perfect system of local information, the warnings 
of approaching troubles are lost or misunderstood ; and the 
liability of different parts of the district to calamity, the 
weak points, on which a watchful eye has to be kept, are 
not known ; and relief, in the shape of remissions and sus- 
pensions of the revenue demand, even when there is no 
widespread famine, is apt to be given imperfectly and with 
the least benefit.' 

The branch of reform which it comes within my province 
to speak of, is therefore one which is by no means of 
secondary importance. 


i. The Imperial Department of Revenue and 

An Imperial Department of Revenue and Agriculture 
had for some years past been in contemplation ; and under 
Lord Mayo's viceroyalty one had been formed in 1870. 
But this was abolished in I876 1 , partly for financial rea- 
sons and partly because the measure was not successful, 
owing to its not being supported by corresponding depart- 
ments in each province. It became, in fact, only an addi- 
tional Secretarial Department, with a miscellaneous burden 
of public business ; so far relieving other offices, but not 
effecting its own special object, because it had no corre- 
sponding machinery under each local government to give 
effect to its recommendations. 

Sir John Strachey, however, when Lieutenant-Governor 
of the North -West Provinces in 1875, formed a local 
department on a new basis. The principle of action was 
that which I have already briefly indicated as the necessary 
preliminary, as well as the complement, to any direct method 
of preventing and remedying famines. The credit of clearly 
perceiving this principle and applying it in practice, is due 
to Mr. E. C. (now SIR EDWARD) BUCK, then serving under 
the North -West Provinces Government. The attention of 
the Revenue officers was directed first to the perfecting of 
the Land-Records and Agricultural Statistics, while agricul- 
tural improvement was kept in mind as a secondary, or 

1 The causes of failure are briefly Department are 

alluded to in 2 of the Resolution Revenue. 

(Government of India) of 8th De- Agriculture, 

cember, 1881. An undue amount Famine, 

and variety of subjects was thrown Fibres and Silk, 

on the new Department ; but what Cattle-Breeding and Cattle- 

really prevented it effecting its Disease, 

special object, was the fact that no Meteorology, 

agency existed in the provinces with Fisheries, 

similar objects. Minerals. 

It was not till the discussion of Museums and Exhibitions, 

the Famine Commissioners' Report, Land-Trade and Agricultural 

in 1880, that the scheme was again Statistics, 

considered under better auspices. Surveys (including Geological). 

The branches of work actually taken Emigration, 

up by the Revenue and Agricultural General. 


rather as a subsequent, object. This may not be the most 
popular, but it is certainly the only practical ideal of an 
Agricultural Department in the present state of affairs. 
The maintenance of maps and land-records in a state of 
continuous correctness, not only leads to economy in the 
future, and facilitates re-assessment of the revenue, but 
provides a useful basis of agricultural statistics, and a 
knowledge of the peculiarities of the different districts. 
Without these, agricultural improvement cannot be at- 
tempted ; it would be working in the dark, and spending 
money in vain on experiments that had no basis to start 

The success of the system in the North -West Provinces 
has been marked ; and when action was taken on the 
Famine Commissioners' Report, it was wisely determined 
to organize for each province a department on the same 
basis. The Imperial Department could now be recon- 
structed with every prospect of permanent utility, and the 
sanction of the Home Government was accordingly given ; 
naturally Sir EDWARD BUCK was selected to be the first 
head l . 

The Imperial Department pays primary attention to the 
Land Administration, and to improving the system of 
assessing and collecting the land-revenue in each province. 
But the department is not unmindful of agricultural im- 
provement, the introduction of valuable staples, the de- 
velopment of trade in Indian products, and the conduct 
of useful experiments in cultivation. It will, of course, 
supervise operations connected with famines when they 
occur. But the chief feature in the new arrangement has 
been the utilization, under efficient control, of the local 
agency in each village, for the purpose of maintaining 
maps, statistics, and records, correct and up to date each 

1 The head of the Department is, to spend part of his time on tour, 

officially, one of the Secretaries to and thus can arrange on the spot, 

the Government of India (Depart- or in conference with the local 

ment of Revenue and Agriculture). authorities, many matters that 

This plan was preferred to appoint- could not be so quickly or so well 

ing a ' Director ' of the Department. disposed of by correspondence. 
The Secretary is enabled, however, 

VOL. I. A a 


year. The economy thus effected in the cost of Settlements 
has been estimated 1 to have already secured a saving of 
two hundred lakhs of rupees ; and it is likely to realize, in 
the future, an annual saving of from twelve to sixteen lakhs. 

2. The Provincial Departments. 

In order to emphasize the importance of that part of the 
scheme which is directed to perfecting, and keeping correct, 
the Agricultural and Land-Records, it was officially deter- 
mined that the heads of the Provincial Departments should 
be called ' Directors of Land-Records and Agriculture V 
The departments have many other duties which I cannot 
here describe, and which, of course, must vary according to the 
requirements and local conditions of the several provinces. 
The conduct of agricultural experiments, the care of vete- 
rinary schools, and model farms (where these exist), are 
among the most obvious 3 . 

The Resolution of the Government of India (8th Decem- 
ber, 1881, on Agricultural Departments) concludes : 

' The views of the Government of India may be summed up 
by saying that the foundation of the work of an Indian Agri- 
cultural Department should be the accurate investigation of 
facts, with a view of ascertaining what administrative course is 
necessary to preserve the stability of agricultural operations. 

1 See the Finance Members' Bud- the last twenty years, had an almost 
get Speech ^1888,1 in the Gazette of continually increasing burden 
India. The lakh, I may remind Eng- thrown upon him ; and the Land- 
lish readers, is 100,000, a lakh of Records Department gave sorely- 
rupees is 10,000 conventionally, needed relief and help in a matter 
i.e. if the rupee is two shillings. of peculiar importance. In discuss- 

2 Resolution i Government of ing the financial question, such a 
India^ Financial No. 608, dated gth consideration is necessarily left out 
February, 1887. of sight ; but if the Agricultural 

3 The establishment of Agricul- Departments resulted in less saving 
tural Departments had not long than is actually the case, the enor- 
proceeded before a financial inquiry mous good done by the improve- 
was made as to whether they would ment of land records would amply 
be successful. Fortunately, this has justify their existence. I know of 
resulted in a satisfactory verdict. no one administrative measure of 
But, in fact, these Departments are greater benefit to the country than 
defensible in the highest degree, on the establishment of these Depart- 
their own merits. The ' District ments. 

Officer ' has, by the legislation of 


. . . The primary efforts of the Department should ... be 
devoted to the organization of agricultural inquiry, which has 
been shown to comprise the duties of gauging the stability of 
agricultural operations in every part of a province, of classify- 
ing the areas of the province according to the results of careful 
investigation, and of deciding what method of administrative 
treatment is suitable to each so as to maintain agricultural 
operations at the highest standard of efficiency possible under 
present conditions. . . . From a system ... of inquiry thus 
conducted will follow the gradual development of agricultural 


The establishment of Agricultural and Land-Record De- 
partments, it is hardly too much to say, alone rendered the 
real simplification of the Settlement work of the present and 
future possible. 

Already, by Resolution in October 1881 1 , the Government 
of India had called attention to the fact that when the Set- 
tlements fell in, it did not follow that a re-settlement, in 
any shape, was to be undertaken as a matter of course. 
The sanction of the Government of India was required to 
new Settlement operations ; and it was to be considered, in 
all cases, whether any such increase in the revenue was 
probable as would make it worth while to undertake them. 
Four points were especially to be noted the probable cost 
of the operations, the time they would take, the increment 
of revenue expected, and the incidence of the existing re- 
venue on the individual landholders. 

If there could be no increase (or less than one which 
represented a profitable rate of interest on the total anti- 
cipated expenditure), revision should ordinarily not be 

1 No. 144, dated 4th October, 1881. course similar principles would be 
It did not apply to the Governments recognized in those presidencies, 
of Bombay and Madras ; though of 

A a 3 


undertaken, unless, indeed, a revision was needed because 
of the inequality of incidence of the last assessment. 

i. New System of Land Records and their 

But this ' Resolution ' only touched the fringe of the sub- 
ject. The whole question of re-settlements, and the means 
of reducing their cost, and depriving them of all their in- 
conveniences to the district population, is one of such 
importance that it is desirable to explain at some length 
how the work of the Land-Record Departments affects it. 
The sketch given in preceding sections will have shown 
how very gradually the work of assessment has been 
reduced to a method, or rather to different methods, suited 
to the varying circumstances of each province. There re- 
mained still the difficulty that, however ' scientific ' the 
method, hitherto the work of a new Settlement has been 
very costly and very troublesome ; and the more elaborate 
the method, the more costly and prolonged the operations. 
The difficulty arose from the fact that it has hitherto been 
unavoidable, in making a Settlement, to have a special staff 
of Surveyors and Settlement Officers, with all their subor- 
dinates and office staff, to record facts, compile statistics, 
fair out records, and so forth. Such a staff, in the nature of 
things, during the whole of its stay, harasses the people not 
a little l , and it upsets all the regular work in ' tahsils ' and 
of the kdnungos and pattudris. But suppose that at last 
the work is at an end ; the Settlement records are all faired 
out and bound in volumes, and the maps mounted; the 
originals are deposited in the Collector's Revenue Record 
Office ; the copies disposed of at the tahsil and in the pat- 
wari's office or ' patwar-khana ' in the village. How soon 
these records, correct as they may have been at a given 

1 To say nothing of the petty de- necessary to pay fees and douceurs to 

mands that subordinate officials secure more or less imaginary bene- 

always make when they are in fits. It is impossible wholly to 

camp, in the shape of supplies, grass, prevent such things, when the 

firewood, and such like ; even if the entire population practises and 

foolish landholders do not think it tolerates them. 


date, cease to correspond with facts ! New fields are added 
to the cultivated area out of the waste ; old fields change 
shape or boundary ; they are aggregated or divided. New 
wells are sunk, new roadways are substituted for old ones, 
and many other such changes take place. Then, again, pro- 
prietors are continually altering ; a certain number of sales 
are notified, and the usual applications for mutation of 
names are made and allowed ; but whether the fact has 
ever found its way into any such record that the Settlement 
list could be corrected, is another matter. The result of all 
this (and much more could be said if space permitted) is 
that, hitherto, when the thirty years (let us suppose) of 
Settlement expired, the whole of the records, prepared 
originally with so much care, have proved out of date, and 
more or less useless. There is, then, nothing for it but to 
re-survey the whole area, and to make out fresh maps and 
records, putting the whole district once more for several 
years into the state of unrest already described, to the 
great detriment of agriculture, as well as of administrative 
and social well-being. 

If only the separate records could be abolished ; if only 
a certain set of necessary papers the large scale-map show- 
ing every field and every detail of the estate, the index- 
register to this ; the list of proprietors, their shares and 
interests, and the revenue they pay ; the list of tenants and 
their rents ; and any such supplemental statistics as local 
rules might require, if only these could be placed in the 
hands of a village patwari, tested and signed as correct up 
to a given date, viz. the commencement of a new Settle- 
ment; and if thenceforward these maps and statements 
could be continually corrected, fresh fields plotted in, and 
statements periodically recopied and kept up to date ; when 
the term of Settlement expired, the 'Record-of-rights' would 
be found as correct and conformable to facts as when it began. 
Then the Collector himself, or perhaps a specially-deputed 
officer, could soon make out the necessary schedules for 
revising the assessment, and the ' re-settlement ' would be 


But to secure such an ideal procedure, several things 
are necessary. First, the staff of village patwdris and 
inspecting kdnungos must be well taught and made com- 
petent to do the survey work that the maintenance of 
village maps involves. Next, their work must be con- 
tinually inspected, tested, and corrected, till the machine 
works without friction and failure. 

Next, the rules for assessment, applicable to future re- 
visions, must be reduced to the greatest simplicity. 

The first of the steps above indicated has everywhere 
been taken. Schools have been opened for the instruction 
of patwdris and their sons in surveying and other neces- 
sary branches of education. The whole staff has been 
graded and organized, and rules made for its appointment 
and control. 

Speaking generally, each patwdri has a circle of three 
or four villages, and the inspecting officers or kdnungos are 
continually moving about and testing the measurements 
and the accuracy of entries in the books made by the 
patwdri. There is also what is called a Registrar 
kdnungo, at the head-quarters of the tahsil or local sub- 
division, who keeps the books and compiles the village 
returns into corresponding subdivisional returns. To give 
a general idea of how the village staff is manned and 
supervised, it may be mentioned that in the North -West 
Provinces (excluding Oudh) the number of patwdris is 
about 2o,oco, the field inspectors or kdnungos number 450, 
or one to every 45 patwdris. The average area of a 
patwdri' s circle is 1,130 acres (cultivated), so that the 
local inspecting officer looks after above 50,000 cultivated 
acres ; the whole establishment costs somewhat more than 
23-75 lakhs of rupees, the reorganized establishments and 
their supervision costing about two lakhs more than the 
old establishment of patwdris and kdnungos. 

It will be seen, then, how this improvement will in- 
creasingly render possible the greatest reform of all in 
re-settlement operations, -namely, the carrying out of 
revision operations without an elaborate re-valuation of 


lands, and by the aid of the ordinary district staff, with 
the smallest possible addition of special establishments. 
Instead of having elaborate volumes of special records, 
prepared and put into an office to become totally useless 
at the end of thirty years, and another set of village and 
pargana accounts increasingly out of correspondence with 
the first, we shall have one set of simple maps and records 
attested as correct for a given date and thenceforward kept 
up, because papers in exactly the same forms will be in the 
hands of the staff to be continually corrected from day 
to day 1 . 

I need only add, that the records will not only help the 
work of revision of Settlement ; they will affect every 
branch of revenue-administration, for they will, in time, 
put us in possession of what I may call analytical know- 
ledge of the districts ; the knowledge, as regards each estate 
and group of lands, whether it is fully developed, well 
cultivated, and secure from famine, or only partially so, 
and what estates must be treated as 'precarious.' This 
knowledge will be the very key to famine prevention and 
relief, as well as to management of estates in the matter of 
granting timely suspensions and remissions of revenue in 
bad years, and to the adoption of a more elastic system of 

1 This is what Sir Alfred Lyall consulted. It would put an end, in 

wrote on the subject : districts already properly settled, to 

' It is hoped that, under the re- all formal and minute valuations of 
gular inspection and supervision theland ; it would, in great measure, 
now given from year to year by the do away with the systematic en- 
district establishment, and subject hancements and levelling up of 
to certain checks and corrections, a rents that formed part of the duty 
body of statistics can, during the of the Settlement Officer, and by the 
currency of existing Settlements, be keeping up, along with the other 
got ready for each estate, upon statistics, of a careful record of im- 
which, without minute inquiry, a provements made by landlords and 
summary and fairly accurate esti- cultivators, the profits of these im- 
mate of the rental assets might be provements might be secured to 
made. This system would, it is them. The body of statistics under 
thought, provide the best possible collection from year to year could 
method of securing for Government at any time be made open to the 
its full share of enhanced rentals. scrutiny of the proprietors of the 
It would, moreover, provide, from land, who might thereby be able to 
time to time, for a tolerably equal forecast, with a certain degree of 
distribution of the land-tax, a point assurance, the revenue for which 
on the propriety and expediency of they would become liable.' 
which much stress is laid by those 


fluctuating assessments for precarious tracts, and, ulti- 
mately, to really beneficial schemes of agricultural im- 

2. The principles of reassessment or revision of 

The Government of India, on the i7th October, 1882, 
issued a Resolution indicating certain principles on which 
re-assessments should be made. I wish to state the plan 
propounded as a whole, but at once premising that it was 
a tentative proposal, and has not been adopted in its 
entirety. The original scheme was (i) that enhancements 
of revenue should only be allowed on the ground of 
(a) rise in prices, 
(6) increase in cultivation, 
(c) improvements made at Government expense. 

This proposal eliminated, as a general rule, all fresh 
attempts to value land. The fact is, the majority of 
districts have been thoroughly surveyed, and soils classified ; 
and if the local establishment do their duty in keeping the 
Records, and the maps on which they are based, up to date 
in the manner above described, there should be only in 
exceptional cases any necessity for further valuation. 

The ' rise in prices ' principle (a) was to be applied with 
two very important limitations. In the first place^ to 
guard against the effect of small or uncertain fluctuations, 
small rises of prices were to be disregarded ; nor need the 
enhancement be in full proportion to the rise, but so as 
to leave a margin with a view to meeting any increase in 
the cost of agriculture, and of providing for a rise in the 
standard of living. 

In the second place, enhancement, on the ground of rise 
in prices, was also to be limited to fifteen per cent, on 
the former rate. 

For the purpose of calculating prices, years of scarcity 
were to be eliminated, for prices are then abnormal. Certain 
staples and certain market localities, it was suggested, 


might be taken for the purposes of calculation, and 
the prices of, say, the decade before the current Settle- 
ment, should be compared with those of the concluding 

(2) In order to give landowners immediate assurance 
of their future position, an assessment should, except in 
backward districts, be declared for each estate as soon as 
possible, which the Resolution called the 'initial assess- 
ment/ which should not be altered when the re-settlement 
began, except on one or more of the above grounds. 

This point has, however (in particular) been given up, as 
it was found impracticable. 

(3) That measures should be taken to secure to tenants 
the same protection against enhancement of their rents, 
as would be offered to landlords in respect of the 

These proposals were generally and in principle agreed 
to by the Governments of Madras and Bombay. In the 
North -Western Provinces, however, they met with elaborate 
criticism; and the Secretary of State 1 , while approving the 
general object of the Resolution, also felt doubts about the 

The arguments about the inequality of the incidence 
of the re venue- demand under existing Settlements, and 
therefore the difficulty of fixing an 'initial assessment,' 
may be passed over, as this portion of the scheme stands 

The principal objection in the North -Western Provinces, 
was on the question of enhancing solely with reference 
to rise in prices. It must be admitted at once that the 
application of the principle of a rise in prices is easier 
in a raiyaticdri province, or in the Panjab, where the 
revenue approximates more to a money sum representing 
a share in the produce obtained by the cultivating pro- 
prietor. But in the North -Western Provinces the land 
is cultivated by cash-paying tenants, and the revenue is 
now a certain share of the rental ; and the objection was 

1 No. 24, dated sand March, 1883. 


stated that in the North -Western Provinces 'prices do not 
affect rents immediately or otherwise than at long in- 
tervals.' Under any circumstances, the prices looked to 
should be prices at the pargana capital, where produce is 
sold by agriculturists ; and harvest prices, not averages 
of other months, should be taken. It was also urged that 
rises in prices could not be counted on as permanent, and 
that if they fell naturally after a revision made on the 
strength of what appeared at the time, there would be 
no remedy but to resort to remissions of the revenue, which 
would be unsatisfactory. 

There were minor objections, such as that the system 
would benefit different tracts unevenly, and that in con- 
sequence of the varying proportion of staples in different 
tracts, there would be some difficulty in adjusting any 
calculation of what the rise in prices was, which would 
be fair to all. The Government of India admitted that 
any rise in prices counted on ought to be widespread ; that 
it was not to be one affecting small areas but whole 
provinces, while it would be easy to allow for an additional 
demand on any particular district or tract where a new 
railway or canal had produced a durable and marked local 
effect on prices. It was also admitted that the difficulty 
about existing rents not following prices, was a serious one; 
but reference was made to a possible change in the tenant 
law, by which enhancements would necessarily be brought 
about almost wholly with reference to prices ; and if so, 
revenue enhancement would follow the same rule T . 

1 Briefly, I may explain that in is, by competition, paying more than 

the North- West Provinces, occu- the ' prevailing ' rates, as above ex- 

pancy-tenants' rents are in practice plained. But should the law be 

enhanced only on the first of the changed to allow all tenants having 

grounds allowed by the law (Section held any land in the village for 

13, Act XII of 1881) ; i. e. they are twelve years, to claim occupancy, 

enhanced up to the ' prevailing ' then the majority would become 

rate, which, in effect, is the rate occupancy-tenants, of whom the 

assumed as fair by the Settlement older ones would soon become 

Officer in his calculations. Occu- equalised as to rates, and the new 

pancy-tenants must now have held ones would be already paying above 

the same land in the village for these rates ; so that the application 

twelve years, therefore they are a for enhancement on the ground 

minority; and the ordinary tenant that the 'tenant was paying below 


It is unnecessary to go into the subject further, as there 
is no present prospect of the tenant law of the North- 
Western Provinces being altered so as largely to increase 
the number of occupancy-tenants. 

3. The present state of the question. 

In a despatch of i6th August, 1884 (No. 16), the Govern- 
ment of India reviewed the objections of the North- Western 
Provinces, and informed the Secretary of State that they 
had abandoned the plan of framing initial revenue assess- 
ments, and they continued : 

1 We shall have no objection in the more recently assessed 
districts, to the entire exclusion of new land from assessment 
on any estate in which the increase could be proved to be below 
a certain percentage. We would divide districts, not estates, 
into two classes : 

' (i) those in which the revenue is fairly adequate, which 
would include the majority of districts assessed 
within the last twenty years ; and 
' (2) those earlier assessed districts in which rentals have 

considerably outgrown the revenue. 

' The latter should be re-assessed according to the method 
proposed by Sir A. Lyall (Lieutenant- Governor of the North- 
Western Provinces) [i. e. the latest Settlement rules under 
which the actual rent-rolls, corrected only to supply positive 
errors, and to give rents for non-rented land liable to assess- 
ment, without prospective and calculated additions, are made 
use of]. The former (should be re-assessed) on the principles 
stated in our first despatch, subject to the modifications now 
suggested ; one of the conditions would be the fifteen per cent, 
maximum (enhancement). The rise in prices would be deter- 
mined primarily by a consideration of the prices in the whole 
province, subject, perhaps, to a further scrutiny in particular 
districts of the effect on them of improved communications. ' 

The Secretary of State replied in a despatch (No. 4, 
Revenue) of 8th January, 1885. It was observed generally 

the " prevailing rate " for other then the second ground allowed by 
tenants of the same class,' &c., the tenant law rise in prices- 
would cease to be operative, and would be the chief one. 


that some of the objections to the original scheme were 
admitted, and that others depended for their removal on 
an alteration of the tenant law, which was not regarded 
as practicable ; but that much remained which might be 
usefully carried into practice. As the despatch gives the 
final orders on the subject, I may now sum up both the 
discussions which I have been describing, and the general 
subject of the latest rules for the simplification of the 
procedure in the re-settlements, by giving the actual prin- 
ciples sanctioned : 

(1) The permanent Settlement idea is formally aban- 

doned ; 

(2) the State shall still retain its claim to share in 

' the unearned increment ' of the value of land 
to which there is a tendency in a progressive 
country ; 

(3) that a general and permanent rise in the prices of 

produce is one of the principal indications and 
measures of this increment ; 

(4) that it is nevertheless desirable to modify the 

existing system of revision of the temporary settle- 
ments of land-revenue with a view of rendering 
it less arbitrary, uncertain, and troublesome to the 
people ; 

(5) that the modification should be effected at least in 

the following particulars : 

(a) repetition of field operations (survey, valuation, mi- 
nute inquiries into assets, and the like) which are 
considered to be inquisitorial and harassing to the 
people, should be, as far as possible, dispensed 
with ; 

(6) enhancement should be based mainly on considera- 
tions of general increase in the value of land ; 

(c) the assessment will not be revised merely with a 

view to equalizing its incidence with that of the 
assessment of other estates ; 

(d) improvements made by the land-holders themselves 

should not be taken into account in revising as- 


sessments ; but improvements made at the cost of 
the State should be taken into account, and also, 
to some extent, increase of cultivation. 

As regards more detailed rules, the Secretary of State 
observed : 

' It is not desirable that I should attempt to lay down, for 
the guidance of the Local Governments, rules for the revision 
of Settlements. But I may state the general principles upon 
which, in my opinion, such operations should be conducted, 
subject to the conditions specified ' [viz. the Nos. i to 5 above 

' All tracts (whether whole districts or parts) which were in 
a backward condition [when the existing assessments were 
framed, and where the subsequent process of development has 
produced inequalities so great and numerous as to make the 
application of any general uniform rate of enhancement un- 
advisable and unfair 1 ] will be excluded from the scheme, 
because the present assessment would evidently afford no 
proper basis for the future assessment. These tracts must be 
left for regular [re-] settlement. 

' As regards other localities, when a Settlement is about to 
expire, a summary inquiry should be made into the condition 
and resources of the tract . . . and upon the results of this 
inquiry the Local Government, with the approval of the 
Government of India, should determine the general rate of 
enhancement to be applied to the tract. The factors to be 
taken into consideration would be, general rise in agricultural 
prices, in actual rentals, and in letting-value and sale-price of 
land ; and care would, of course, be taken, that the increment 
determined on should be such as would not unduly raise the 
revenue, certainly not in any case beyond fifty per cent, of the 
"apparent assets " [i. e. the assets obtained by consideration of the 
factors above mentioned, of which the ' actual rental ' was the 
amount which the assessing officer, on a consideration of the 
estate or tract, was led to consider the proper actual rental 2 ]. 

1 This explanation was approved rental ' does not include, be it re- 
by the Secretary of State in a later membered, any prospective rise in 
despatch. rent or (in this class of estate) any 

2 The term in the despatch is increase in the cultivated area (Re- 
' apparent assets ' which was ex- venue Despatch, Secretary of State, 
plained to mean what I have put No. 65, dated soth July, 1885). 

in brackets ; the proper ' actual 


'There is no necessity for determining beforehand what 
shall constitute the unit of area ... to which the same rate 
of increment will apply. That must depend on local condi- 
tions. It might be a whole district, or, when the conditions of 
progress vary, different sections of it. Within that area, the 
rate of increment, as determined by the Local Government, 
would, as a rule, be applied by the Settlement officer rateably 
all round. But it should be in his discretion to treat special 
cases exceptionally. There may be tracts, or groups of estates, 
to which a rate higher than the average rate should be applied, 
such, for example, as have benefited by improvements made 
at the expense of Government, or where there has been an 
unusual increase of cultivation or rise of rental. There may 
very probably, on the other hand, be estates in which, from 
over-assessment or other cause, it may not be expedient to take 
the whole increase, or any part of it, or in which possibly even 
a reduction of the existing demand may be expedient. And 
objecting proprietors might have the option ... of a regular 

The practice now is, under these orders, to draw up a 
programme of Settlement work with reference to super- 
vision of survey operations and other considerations ; and 
the Government lays down instructions for the Settlement 
of each district 1 . 

1 For example, I may abstract held by tenants of this class and 

the ' Jalaun ' district instructions that ; what is to be done when a 

(December, 1884) in a few words: particular village has a fraudulent 

1. No new survey or soil-classi- or wholly inaccurate rent-roll. Ob- 
fication or records (except in seven- servations are added about fraud- 
teen villages for special reasons). ulently inadequate rates as distin- 

2. Revision to be an actual re- guished from those allowed at 
corded rent-roll corrected (i) to put favourable rates on customary 
a rent on ' sir ' ; r (2) to correct grounds ; and about determining 
fraudulent concealments of rent ; the area that is really ' sir.' The 
(3) correct rent for fields held rent- question of ' imposing fixed maxima 
free or at ' manifestly inadequate ' of enhancement ' is reserved, 
rents. The actual rentals to be The Government of the North- 
average of six years (from 1878- Western Provinces have also issued 
1883-4). Instructions go on to ex- general rules for assessment (under 
plain how the rent-rolls should be Act XIX of i873\ which I have 
verified, and it should be tested spoken of in detail in the chapters 
what area really is ' sir/ and what on the North-Western Provinces. 


4. Instalments of Land-Revenue. 

Another subject of consideration has been the fixing of 
the most convenient dates for the payment of the Govern- 
ment revenue. This payment could not be conveniently 
made in one sum for the year, nor on any purely calendar 
arrangement of quarter-days, &c. In some Settlements it 
is expressly provided that it shall be paid in a certain way. 
It is obvious that this matter requires attention, and that 
the power of the people to pay without difficulty, largely 
depends on the suitableness of the time of demand. 

In places where the revenue-payers are landlords or 
employers of tenants, their power of payment depends on 
their first having time to collect their rents. And in its 
turn this depends on the power of the cultivators to find 
the money for the rents. Rent, again, cannot be paid till 
the harvest is realized ; and this condition applies also to 
the raiyat, who pays revenue direct to the State, and to 
the petty cultivating proprietor who does the same, in- 

Here there are usually two harvests to be considered ; 
some pay most of their revenue from the ' rabi,' or spring 
harvest ; others, from the autumn, or ' kharif ' ; others 
part from both. If a principal part is demanded when the 
harvest relied on is not yet got in, the payer must borrow 
the money at high interest ; and though, when the produce 
is presently sold, he may pay back to the money-lender a 
portion of the debt, he will not be able to repay the whole. 
If, on the other hand, the date for payment is so fixed that 
the cultivator has got in his money by sale of his produce, 
and yet the village headman will not receive it, he is very 
likely to spend this sum, or lose it in some way, before the 
time comes for the revenue payment J . 

1 In a very able paper on Instal- system that by concentrating the 

ments in Berar, Mr. W. B. Jones payments of land-revenue on one 

mentions the difficulty of getting or two dates it adds enormoiisly to 

into the districts the requisite the difficulties of the cultivator, 

amount of silver money to pay the For a small province like Berar to 

revenue : pay thirty lakhs of silver rupees 

' It is the weak point in our into the treasury on the isth Janu- 


On this important subject the Government of India 
issued a Resolution (No. 15 R., dated 3rd May, 1882). 

The leading idea is to establish a ' normal proportion 
between the amount of revenue collected and the amount 
of produce gathered at harvest' to establish a closer 
connection between current liabilities and current assets 1 . 
And it is not only for whole districts that this has to be 
seen to ; agricultural circumstances vary within much more 
limited tracts. ' Attention has lately been drawn to the 
case of three adjacent villages, in one of which the cash of 
the agricultural community is principally obtained from 
rice at the end of the rainy season; in the second, from 
a sugar-harvest in January ; in the third, from cereals in 
spring. Yet for all these villages the same dates were 
fixed for the payment of rent and revenue.' Attention 
was also drawn to the matter I have alluded to in a foot- 
note : ' The sudden demand for large quantities of silver 
money on certain dates, causes prices to fall (because 
of the withdrawal of silver) while the rate of interest rises ; 
grain has to be thrown into a slackened market, and loans 
must be negotiated on usurious terms.' 

The result has been to call for an inquiry in each pro- 
vince as to the practice. The North -Western Provinces 
Government has issued rules on the subject. 

ary, and thirty lakhs on the isth mark (Report, Part II, Chap, iii, 

March, is a stupendous financial Sec. 3. 2) : 

operation an operation which ' Where one crop is mostly re- 

causes violent fluctuations in the served for food, and another mostly 

price of produce fluctuations which sold, if the circumstances of the 

give the baniya (grain-dealer and people require it, larger instalments 

money-lender) his opportunities. should be made payable upon the 

If we could but make these vast crop which is raised for the market, 

sums flow into the treasury in equal and smaller instalments upon that 

monthly amounts, the benefit to the which is raised for food. The dates 

cultivating classes would be great for payment should also be fixed so 

indeed. For they would then be as to allow of the produce being 

able to raise the loans they require harvested and sold before the in- 

to pay the revenue at the true mar- stalment is collected, so as to avoid 

ket rate. As things now are, the the losses which the landowner 

enormous demand which takes would suffer if he were compelled 

place all at once, enables, I might to raise money on an unripe crop, 

almost say compels, the baniya to or sell it hastily in an overstocked 

ask exorbitant interest.' market.' 
1 The Famine Commissioners re- 



i. Suspension when sufficient, and when not. 

Another subject of great importance is the granting 
of relief when a bad year, or a succession of bad years, 

Ordinarily, the revenue is calculated at rates which are 
fair for the average of years, good and bad together ; so that, 
speaking generally, if one crop fails outright, but the next is 
good, the cultivator ought to be sufficiently relieved by the 
suspension of the demand for the instalment of one crop, 
payment being demanded only on the occurrence of the 
second of two successive good harvests. But sometimes 
there comes a more serious calamity, and suspended revenue 
has to be remitted altogether. This causes disturbance in 
the estimates, which is often embarrassing. 

2. General considerations. 

The principle of the Native governments, which cared 
nothing about estimates and financial equilibrium, was 
always to be elastic ; they ran up the nominal revenue to a 
high figure, which they perhaps rarely exacted to the full. 
But, from the first, our system has been to fix a very 
moderate revenue, and demand an exact payment ; failing 
this, in Bengal, the sale of the estate is at once ordered, and 
in other provinces, various coercive measures. 

Fortunately the progress of the country has been such, 
that the land-revenue is collected with remarkable facility, 
and the issue of coercive processes is mostly confined to the 
minor forms mere notices or threats to the careless, rather 
than serious action against defaulters ; but still there is a 
rigidity about our system that, whatever its justification, 
is not always acceptable to the Oriental mind *. 

1 The following remarks in the ' Our system of Settlement and 

BANDA Settlement Report (p. 150) land-revenue collection is logically 
by Mr. A. Cadell struck me : a good one, and is theoretically 

VOL. I. B b 


There is also much difficulty in dealing with districts 
of which Gurgaon in the Panjab occurs to me as an example 
where, sometimes for three or four years together, if there 
is a sufficient rainfall, the qualities of the prevalent soils 
are such, that excellent, and more than excellent, crops are 
obtained. Then come a series of bad years : the rain fails, 
and lands that were before fertilized by a deposit of soil 
washed down from the low hills (dahri), are left untilled : or 
again, if rain is in irregular excess, they may be over-flooded 
and water-logged. Unless we adopt variable or fluctuating 
rates, any fixed assessment can hardly work. If it is 
very low, it will sacrifice revenue needlessly in good years ; 
and in bad years, even then it will not be easily, if at all, paid. 
It seems hardly possible to manage such areas, except on 
the plan of allowing the Collector a power of immediate 
action in bad years. In this matter, we should take a 
lesson from the best Native governments. It will be seen 
that their principle was always to keep up the assessment 
pretty high, but allow of an immediately-acting and 
thoroughly elastic system of easing off in bad years. Our 
system, it is true, tends to make the land-revenue par- 
take, somewhat, of the nature of a tax ; and rigidity and 
certainty are the necessary features of a proper tax- 
administration: they have their advantage in compelling 
thrift and habits of forethought. But land-revenue is 
not wholly a tax, and cannot be effectively treated wholly 
on the principles of one. 

just and fair ; we fix a demand to collect a revenue, in itself not 
based neither on the abundance of excessive, through good years and 
good seasons nor on the poverty of through bad, has been the great 
bad ; we argue that the proprietor motive of the irregularities which 
who gets more than his due in in Bundelkhand, more than else- 
bumper seasons can afford to pay where, have disgraced our adminis- 
more than his half share of the tration. Theorists may argue that 
rental in unfavourable years. But, if men do not put by money in 
unhappily, it is as true now as it good seasons they deserve no mercy; 
was sixty years ago when Mr. Holt but the same argument pushed a 
Mackenzie made the remark, that little further would condemn the 
" men, especially men so improvi- improvident to death as well as 
dent as the natives of India, do not ruin, when the next period of scar- 
live by averages " ; and the attempt city arrives.' 


3. Government orders on the subject. 

The Government of India's Resolution issued on the 
subject in October, 1882, was intended to indicate the lines 
of a policy rather than issue hard-and-fast orders. It 
suggested that, in order to enable the Government officers 
to know how to act, and in order to systematize know- 
ledge, five principal measures should be taken in hand : 

(1) the classification of agricultural land according to the 

security or insecurity of its yield ; 

(2) the adaptation of the system to the character of each 

class ; 

(3) the extension of relief granted to landlords, to the 

tenant class also ; 

(4) an investigation into the outturn of every harvest ; 

(5) the making more definite the authority of local 

officers to act at once. 

It was suggested that estates (and even parts of estates 
might require to be noted in this respect) should be classi- 
fied into those (i) which are, to a great extent, secure 
against failure of crops, by having a fair proportion of 
their area irrigated ; (2) those in which, in abnormal sea- 
sons, suspensions, or ultimately remissions, are likely to be 
needed (called insecure areas) ; (3) areas in which cultiva- 
tion is so uncertain in its result as to render an annual 
adjustment requisite : these may be termed ' fluctuating 

As to the first and fourth measures noted above, it is 
sufficient to remark that the improved land records and 
statistics, subject as they are to constant inspection and 
testing, ought in time to secure good results, whether in 
the form of village and pargana note-books, containing an 
account of each estate, or in the form of specially-coloured 
maps and tabulated lists of villages and estates, as provin- 
cial circumstances may suggest. The second head indicates 
that in ' secure ' estates, suspensions or remissions would only 
become necessary in the rare case of some special plague 
of locusts, hail, or other calamity. ' Insecure ' areas would 

B b 2 


require a ready power of suspension, which has to be 
systematized by indicating the duty of the District Officer 
and the Commissioner, and their respective powers to act 
on their own authority ; defining the cases in which refer- 
ence to the chief controlling authority and to Government 
is requisite 1 . 

Whether suspension is temporarily granted, or is more 
formally sanctioned for a definite period under orders of 
higher authority, the ultimate grant of remission depends 
on the orders of Government ; and where the remission 
aggregates ten per cent, of the entire land-revenue of the 
province, the previous sanction of the Government of India 
is required. 

4. Fluctuating Assessments. 

The plans for ' fluctuating assessment ' vary according 
to circumstances. In principle they proceed more or less 
on the lines of assessing at fixed average rates (for different 
qualities of soil), and charging those rates only when, 
after the crop is or ought to be mature, it is known what 
acreage was actually productive. An account of a special 
' fluctuating system/ applied in the recent Settlement, will 
be found in the chapter on Ajmer-Merwara. 

In several parts of the Panjab, including riverain 
villages liable to violent and extensive changes by river 
action, as well as tracts liable to flood or where the rainfall 
is extremely small and uncertain, fluctuating assessments 
are also employed. Speaking generally, the basis of the 
method is, to fix certain differential rates for classes of 
land bearing crops, which rates are levied on an annual 
(or a harvest) measurement of the land which actually bore 
a crop. Partial failure in the yield is allowed for by 
deduction in the total. Newly cultivated land is always 

1 A certain graduated scale of which Collectors and other officers 
powers, according to the greater or can act in the North -Western Pro- 
less fraction of the crop lost, was vinces are stated in the special 
suggested, but is too much in detail chapter on Administrative busi- 
to be practised. The rules under ness. 


allowed a reduction for the first year or two. In some 
cases, besides the fluctuating rate, a small fixed acreage 
rate is levied on account of the value which the land has 
as waste or grazing ground even when not cultivated. 

5. Relief to Tenants. 

As regards the benefit of revenue relief granted to land- 
lords being passed on to tenants, that is a matter which is 
provided for in some of the Tenant Acts 1 , and is then a 
question of law ; otherwise it may be a matter of conditions 
annexed to the grant of the relief. 

It may be added that the Secretary of State has decided 
against the principle of charging interest on revenue dues 


Conspectus of the Systems. 

I conclude this introductory and general sketch, first 
with a diagram which will recall the chief features of the 
development of our revenue systems, and next with a table 
taken from the Government of India's printed ' Statistical 
Returns, 1886-87,' which will give some idea of the general 
effect and results of land-revenue Settlements. 

As an appendix to the chapter, I also reproduce an 
able and instructive resume of the financial aspects of 
Settlement work contained in the Honourable J. Westland's 
Budget Note for 1888-892. 

1 See, for example, Section 23, it is customary to print not ' Ru- 
Act XII of 1881 ; Act IX of 1883, pees ' but ' Rx,' i. e. ten rupees, and 
Sections 65 and 73. then to omit three cyphers. So the 

2 I may remind the reader that, Rx 27 means 2,70,000 rupees, 
to save useless printing of figures, 




The Bengal system of 
179093 (seeks to de- 
clare some person to 
be landlord or pro- 
prietor, and secure 
his position, between 
the cultivator and the 

Permanent Settlement with 
Zamindars as propri- 
etors, (1793,) with no 
survey, no record of 
rights, and no de- 
fined method of as- 

Improved system of 
Regulation VII of 
1822 and Regulation 
IX of 1833 ; non-per- 
manent Settlements 
with survey and re- 
cord of rights and 
prescribed method of 

Settlement with 
proprietary joint 

through a re- 
presentative ; 
North - "West- 
ern Provinces : 
the Panj&b 
and Ajmer. 

Settlement Settlement with 
with Taluq- mdlguzdrs over 
ddrs over the individual 
the com- occupants of vil- 
munities ; lages ; Central 
Oudh. Provinces. Te- 

nants' rents 
fixed as well as 
the proprietor's 
revenue pay- 
ments by the 


The Bengal system 
first applied to Ma- 
dras, but afterwards 
prohibited ; still sur- 
vives as regards some 
of the estates. At- 
tempts in some dis- 
tricts to make joint- 
village Settlements. 


Madras Raiyatwari 
system (1820) ; occu- 
pants regarded as 
proprietors. Settle- 
ment for thirty 
years ; uniform sys- 
tem of assessment 
with annual remis- 
sions. Re-settlements 
confined by rule to 
alterations resulting 
from a rise in prices 
no general Revenue 


Bombay Raiyatwari 
system of field assess- 
ment ; no theory of 
ownership ; occupant 
has right defined by 
law. Settlement for 
thirty years only : 
system of assessment 
uniform and defined 
by rules. A complete 
Revenue Code en- 


Other systems, in 
principle Raiyatwari 
(no middleman) of 
Assam, Burma, 
Coorg, &c. 


Extract from the Supplement to the Gazette of India 

(March $\st, 1888.) 

'Land-Revenue during the twelve months ending September 

(In thousands of Ex.) 
















Central Provinces . 








Burma . 
Upper Burma 


i, 060 





2 35 

Assam . 








Bengal . 

3 ; 68 7 




39 r 5 



North-Western Pro- 
vinces and Oudh. 





5, 8o 9 



Panjab . 


2 099 



2.. 1 53 



Madras . 























22 510 

See Note . 








The figures in the lowest line are the alienated Land-Revenue of Bombay, which, in the 
system of accounts of that province, are added on the Revenue side, and charged again as 
expenditure under Assignments, Land-Kevenue, and Police. The amounts are neglected in 
the statement itself. 

It will be remembered that a portion of the total receipts of Land-Revenue is in the 
accounts shown under the separate head of irrigation. 

' 33. Although the growth of revenue shown in the above 
figures has been very steady, it can hardly, from a financial 
point of view, be said to be satisfactory in amount. It has 
been less than one per cent, a year, and is on the whole a poor 
return for the money which Government has spent, in the 
form of railways and of canals, in improving its estate. 

' But the fact is that the period covered by the above state- 


ment represents, in a general way, the close of the thirty years' 
Settlements in several of the provinces, and the Government is 
only now beginning to reap its share in the advance of the past 
two or three decades. Settlement operations are at present 
being carried on on a more extensive scale than at any previous 
time, and we have every reason to expect a handsome increase 
of revenue under this head. 


' 34. During the last four years (and in a great measure in 
preparation for this re-settlement of revenue) a very great im- 
provement has taken place in Northern India in the adminis- 
tration of this important head of revenue and in the means 
adopted by the Government to assess and settle from time to 
time that share of the produce of the land which has in all ages 
been the main source of the revenue of the sovereign powers 
in India. 

' As no systematic review has recently been published of the 
position and prospects of this our most important head of 
revenue, I propose to take up the subject in some detail, both 
from an administrative and from a financial point of view, the 
materials having been supplied to me by Sir Edward Buck, the 
Revenue Secretary to the Government of India, to whom per- 
sonally is due by far the largest share of the credit of the 
improvements effected. 

' 35. The system of land-assessment has hitherto, in every 
province, involved the complete survey, field by field, of every 
village an operation which was rendered necessary by the 
absence of correct maps at the commencement of the thirty-year 
period. The object of the system now introduced is to pre- 
serve, and to correct up to date, the records upon which the 
surveys and Settlements are based, so that the re-settlements, 
when they fall due, may be made upon existing records, and 
may not require an elaborate investigation de novo. The maps 
which have been provided by the great cadastral survey which 
has now almost drawn to an end, are in future to be corrected 
up to date from year to year by permanent establishments in 
which the patwaris or village accountants occupy the most 
important place. In the same way the Settlements now being 
completed have involved a complete revision of all records-of- 
rights, including details of the occupancy of every field, and 

CHAP. V.] 



these records, like the maps, are in future to be maintained 
from year to year by the permanent establishments. The 
assessment included also the valuation of the soil and produc- 
tive powers of every field ; but the valuation made during the 
past thirty years will in future revisions of Settlement be 
accepted without material alteration. Three important ele- 
ments of expenditure have thus been eliminated from future 
Settlement operations, viz. the cost of periodical field surveys, 
of revisions of records-of-right, and of soil valuations. The 
introduction of the new system is made possible both by the 
more complete maps and records which have been supplied by 
the operations of the past thirty years, and by the creation of 
Agricultural Departments which are permanent Departments 
of Survey and Settlement. 

' 36. An examination of the cost under the old and new sys- 
tems has recently been made in pursuance of the inquiries of the 
Finance Committee with the object of ascertaining the financial 
effect of the new arrangements and the probable cost of future 
Settlement operations. This investigation is not complete, but 
it points to a maximum expenditure, in future, of R. 100 a 
square mile, including the cost of additional establishment, and 
in some provinces to a considerably lower figure. The com- 
parative results are shown in the following table, in which 
a maximum rate of R. i oo is applied to all provinces : 


Rate pei- 
square mile 
under the 
old system at 
rates recently 

per annum 
at rates in 

per annum at 
tlie maximum 
rate of R. 100 
per square 




North-Western Provinces and Oudh 




Panjab ...... 


50 ooo 


Central Provinces .... 




3 So 

n ^oo 

S ooo 





Bombay ...... 








showing an ultimate annual saving of Rx. 237,500. 



' The above table is based on an estimate of the maximum 
cost which may be incurred in the revision of assessments 
when the new arrangements have been completely established. 
In the meantime some saving has been already made by their 
partial introduction and by measures which have recently been 
taken to accelerate the current revisions of Settlement. Under 
the programmes which have been arranged in recent con- 
ferences with the local authorities, there has been effected 
a saving either in the expenditure on survey and Settlement, 
or in the more punctual recovery of increments of new revenue, 
which, in three provinces the Central Provinces, Panjab, and 
Madras is estimated at a gross amount of Ex. 2,000,000 
during the next ten years, or an average of Rx. 200,000 a year 
during the next decade. In these and other provinces the 
new increments of Land-Revenue to which the Government 
is entitled will henceforth be assessed and collected up to date, 
while hitherto they have in many cases come into force only 
several years after the date of the expiry of the old Settlement. 

'37. The general growth of the Land-Revenue is exhibited 
in the following table : 

Table showing growth of Land-Revenue (including Permanently- settled Tracts,} 

(The figures are 
thousands of Ex.) 




Average an- 
nual growth 
(14 years). 

of increase 
(14 years). 


3 'o 



Average an- 
nual growth 
since 1856-57 
(30 years). 

of increase 
(30 years). 


,8 J 


A &1 


Average an- 
nual growth 
since 1870-71 
(20 years). 

uf increase 

(20 Vl'-Ill-Sl. 

Provinces . 











Oudh. . . . 











Panjab . . . 











Central Pro- 

vinces . . . 











Bengal . . . 











Madras . . . 











Bombay (a) 











Assam . . . 











Lower Burma . 











Minor Pro- 

vinces . . . 



1 20 



1 2O 













(a) Excluding Alienations. 


'The figures show actual collections both of Land-Revenue 
and of miscellaneous items classed as Land-Revenue, e. g. sale- 
proceeds of waste lands ; water-rates in Madras ; nominal 
revenue assessment on lands assigned for service in Bombay ; 
capitation-tax and receipts from fisheries in Burma and Assam. 

'38. Three periods are taken, viz. : (i) the first fourteen 
years after the mutiny, during which the growth was at the 
rate of Rx. 190,000 a year ; (2) a period of thirty years from 
the mutiny to the present time, during which the growth was 
at the rate of Rx. 166,000 a year ; (3) a period of twenty years 
(partly estimated) from 1870-71 to 1890-91, during which the 
growth is at the rate of Rx. 142,000 a year. 

'39. It will not fail to be seen that, while the fourteen years 
preceding 1870-71 showed an annual increase of Rx. 190,000, 
the rate of increase in the twe'nty succeeding years has averaged 
only three-fourths of this. The reasons for this are, that the 
first period was, in many parts of India Oudh and Orissa 
for example a period of active re-assessment and Settlement, 
and that, therefore, during the second there was less of the 
growth of revenue which comes in from Settlement operations ; 
that a large accession of land-revenue occurred after the mutiny 
in consequence of confiscations ; and finally, that there was, 
between 1860 and 1870, a rapid increase in the cultivated area 
of the provinces of Bombay and Madras, in which the system 
of land-settlement is such that newly-tilled land comes under 
annual assessment, and in which the demand for cotton during 
the American war gave a powerful impulse to cultivation. On 
the other hand, a corresponding check to cultivation occurred 
in the same provinces during the last of the three periods in 
consequence of the drought of 1877-78. 

' 40. Notwithstanding these causes of exceptional growth in 
the beginning of the post-mutiny period, it may reasonably be 
expected that the capital outlay which the Government has 
recently devoted to irrigation and railways will, during the 
next few years, bring to it a larger return from the land, by 
reason of the great improvement of its produce, both in quan- 
tity and value, by the agency of canals and the opening-out of 
communications. In these accessions to the landed income of 
the State strict regard will be had to the principles which have 
invariably been followed by the Government of India in the 
assessment of the land, its guiding policy having always been 
the lenient consideration of the proprietary classes. During 


thirty years of peace and progress, the rentals of tenants have, 
through the cultivation of new fields or the imposition of new 
rents by landlords, been continually expanding, and, in some 
of the most fertile areas of India, the landlords themselves 
have, without the intervention of the Government, materially 
enhanced the rent paid to them, while at the same time that 
proportion of it paid by them to the State has been continu- 
ously reduced to lower and more definite limits. In the 
same way, a lenient consideration is extended to the agri- 
cultural community in provinces where the cultivators or 
cultivating proprietors are assessed by the State itself, so that 
in these also the percentage of produce paid as land-revenue 
has been constantly decreased. 

' The growth of land-revenue, therefore, which is to be 
anticipated will be a growth due to that peace and prosperity 
which directly spring from a lenient and careful administra- 
tion rather than to any direct action of the Government in the 
direction of raising rentals. 

' A brief review of the position in each province will now be 


'41. North -Western Provinces. The old system conies to a 
final end within the next two years. The greater part of the 
province is held by tenants on small holdings of a few acres 
paying rent to landlords who are charged with a payment of 
50 per cent, of their assets to Government. The advanced 
condition of the province led the Secretary of State to inquire, 
so long ago as 1863, whether a permanent Settlement could not 
be introduced ; but a final consideration of the subject between 
1882 and 1884 ended in the adoption of the system already 
described, under which annually revised maps and records are 
made the basis of assessment. 

' The rate of growth of land-revenue in the North- Western 
Provinces since the mutiny year has, however, been moderate. 
In the first fourteen years it was only 5 per cent, (say '35 per 
cent, per annum), but it has in the current period of twenty 
years risen to 10 per cent, or "5 per cent, per annum. There 
was in the North- Western Provinces less room for extension 
of cultivation than in most parts of India. Lying mainly in 
the fertile alluvial plain between the Himalayas and the high- 

CHAP, v.] APPENDIX. 38 1 

lands of Central India, the province attracted a large population 
at an early historical period, and it was at the period of the 
mutiny highly assessed. But the large amount of State 
capital spent since that time in the form of railways and 
canals, and the contemporaneous rise of prices has given a 
fresh impulse to agricultural wealth, and the province is now 
in many districts as lightly, as it was formerly heavily, 
assessed. A considerable amount of relief was given at the 
commencement of the thirty-years' period of Settlement now 
expiring, by the reduction of the standard of the State demand 
from 66 per cent, of assets to 50 per cent. a change which 
was, however, somewhat counterbalanced by the high valuation 
of assets made under the rules which governed the operations 
of the Settlement Officers. The relief is now made complete 
by the elimination of soil valuation from the assessment system 
which, except in cases of suspected fraud, requires that the 
recorded assets should be accepted as a basis of assessment. 
Rentals are in many districts still growing at a rate of about 
i per cent, per annum, and in certain tracts the growth is 
likely to be so great that even under the lenient system 
now adopted, some difficulty may be anticipated in taking the 
Government quota in full at the next Settlement from the 
landlords, on account of the large and sudden increase which 
would be involved in such an assessment. 

' 42. Oudh, with the exception of a closely populated tract 
between Lucknow and Benares, came under much later deve- 
lopment than the North -Western Provinces. Its revenues were 
not, until after the mutiny, brought under the effective ad- 
ministration of the British Government, who applied to it the 
same system of Settlement as that which prevailed in the 
North -Western Provinces. The tenants of Oudh have less 
positive rights than those of the adjacent province, as in the 
latter the greater number are more securely protected by 
statutory rights against unlimited enhancement of rent. 
There is, therefore, a prospect of a larger growth of rental, 
and also of revenue, in Oudh than in the North -Western Pro- 
vinces. The land is rich, the climate favourable, and although 
since 1860 the extension of cultivation has been very large, 
considerable areas still remain to be brought under the plough. 
Competition for the land is likely to increase, and with it the 
enhancement of the rents by the landlords, who have in Oudh 
practically a free hand. The development of the province 


under British rule has been very great, and is still, with the 
extension of railways, progressing at a rapid rate. The pro- 
vince will come under re-assessment, on the new or economical 
system, between 1892 and 1906. 

'43. In the Panjdb there is a large proportion of dry sandy 
soil which is only capable of development under the influence 
of irrigation. Subsoil water is generally too far from the sur- 
face for wells, and the growth of revenue depends mainly on 
the expenditure of State capital on canals. The revenue- 
payers are for the most part cultivating proprietors paying 
direct to Government, no part of the produce being intercepted 
by middlemen. A large amount of State capital has been in 
recent years invested in the province in railways and canals. 
Under these circumstances the growth of the land-revenue, 
which has since the mutiny been slow, should now progress at 
a rapid rate. 

' The revision of Settlement has, under the old system, in- 
volved, as in the North -Western Provinces, a high rate of expen- 
diture and protracted operations, but only a very few districts 
now remain to be completed under that system, and measures 
have recently been taken to expedite their assessment. The 
whole province will then come under the operation of the new 
rules which require the Settlement to be based on annual maps 
and records. 

' 44. The Central Provinces have shown a very small develop- 
ment of land-revenue since the mutiny. They have been to 
a great extent cut off from the railway system and have at the 
same time been lightly assessed. The revision of Settlement 
takes place during the current decade commencing with the 
first year of the present Provincial Contract, 1887-88, and 
it is estimated, after nine years, to yield an increase of 
Ex. 180,000. Owing to the backward state of the province, the 
low rates now paid to Government, and the new development 
of the railway system which is taking place, it has been deter- 
mined to make the new Settlements for terms varying between 
twelve and twenty years, so that the reassessment of the pro- 
vince will recommence shortly after the termination of the 
existing revision. 

' The revision of Settlement is being made at present partly 
on the old and partly on the new system, but at a low cost not 
exceeding R. 100 a square mile. The same necessity for a com- 
plete series of maps and records has existed in this as in other 

CHAP, v.] APPENDIX. 383 

provinces, but owing to the circumstance that the revision of 
annual records was commenced, with the creation of the 
Agricultural Department, five years before the old Settlements 
began to expire, there has been more time than elsewhere to 
utilize the village and district establishments in the work of 
preparing for Settlement. Arrangements were made under 
which a large number of parties of the Survey of India have 
covered the surface of the provinces with a network of trian- 
gulation available both for topographical and revenue purposes. 
These are filled in by the village officers under the supervision 
of the local Eevenue officers, and they provide sufficiently good 
maps as a basis for future revisions of assessment. The re- 
vision of the record is also primarily effected by the permanent 
establishments, leaving only the valuation of soils and general 
supervision to be effected by 'a special staff. At the close of 
the present revision, nine or ten years hence, the new system 
will be introduced and the cost be brought considerably below 
the new maximum of E. i oo a square mile. 

' The land is held, as in the North- Western Provinces and 
Oudh, by cultivators of small holdings paying rent to pro- 
prietors from whom the Government takes revenue. But 
whereas in those provinces the landlords have the power, 
which is freely used, of raising rents contemporaneously with 
increase of competition and rise of prices, they have no such 
power in the Central Provinces. The growth of rent and, 
therefore, of revenue, entirely depends, except in land newly 
taken into cultivation, on the periodical assessments of rent 
made by the Government at the time of Settlement. The 
existing rents are, in most parts of the province, an unusually 
small fraction of the total value of the produce ; while, in con- 
sequence of the rising prices due to the extension of the rail- 
way system, the disproportion is continuously becoming 
greater. The area of culturable land still to be brought under 
the plough is exceptionally large. The province is one, there- 
fore, from which a material growth of land-revenue may be 
looked for. 

' 45. Thus far the provinces dealt with are those popularly 
known as the ' temporarily- settled zamindari ' or ' landlord ' 
provinces. I will next refer to Bengal, which is recognized 
generally as a 'permanently-settled landlord province.' But 
there are in Bengal not less than about 14,000 square miles 
which belong to the temporarily-settled landlord class and of 


which the old Settlements will shortly fall in. In respect of 
this tract preparations are now being made for punctual assess- 
ment on much the same plan as in the Central Provinces, 
and at equally moderate rates of cost, by the Agricultural 
Department of the province. 

' The area in question comprises large tracts in Orissa and 
Chittagong, and several Government estates. It will hereafter 
come entirely under the new system. An increment of land- 
revenue of 20 per cent, would in this area be equivalent to 
a fixed addition of ten lakhs a year to the annual demand. 

' 46. The province of Madras must be divided into two sec- 
tions the permanently-settled zamindari or landlord area, 
and the temporarily- settled raiyatwari or tenant-proprietor area. 
The first is about 48,000 square miles and the second about 
93,000 square miles, or roughly one-third and two-thirds 
respectively. The Settlement on the old system, which re- 
quired a complete series of field maps and a valuation of soils, 
is now drawing to a close and is being hastened by assistance 
lent to the local Survey Department by the Government of 
India. In a few years the whole province will, in accord- 
ance with the intention which for some time has been declared 
by the Madras Government, be permanently relieved of special 
Settlement and Survey establishments. 

' The growth of land-revenue in the tenant-proprietor tracts 
takes place in two different directions. There is the periodical 
growth due to the increase of rent-rates at the end of every 
thirty years' period, and the annual growth due to the gradual 
increase of the area brought under cultivation. For in Madras 
all tenant proprietor waste land has an annual rate attached to 
it at the time of assessment which is applied and collected 
whenever the land is occupied. The periodical growth (that 
is, the increase of rates between the last Settlement and the 
one now being completed) is roughly estimated at from 5 to 7 
per cent, and the annual increment due to increased cultivation 
at Ex. 10,000 per annum. The rate of increase under this latter 
head will necessarily fall off as less land becomes available. 

'47. In Bombay the same general conditions prevail as in the 
raiyatwari or tenant-proprietor area of Madras. The growth 
rate, however, is not checked by the presence of permanently- 
settled land, and has, as in the temporarily- settled section of 
Madras, a double growth, the one being due to the periodical 
increase of rent-rates every thirty years, and the other to the 

CHAP, v.] APPENDIX. 385 

annual occupation of fresh land at the revenue-rates which 
were attached to it at Settlement. 

'The whole province has in recent years undergone a thorough 
and searching revision of assessment which is now drawing to 
a close. This revision has been in the hands of a separate 
Survey Department which will within five or six years be 
gradually broken up and absorbed in the new establishments, 
and the province will then come permanently under the new 
system. It may be noticed here that both in the Madras and 
Bombay Presidencies the holdings or small farms of tenant- 
proprietors have had their boundaries fixed once and for ever 
by the Survey Department, and that instead of, as in other 
provinces, the map requiring annual revision in order to keep 
it in accord with changing boundaries, it is here necessary to 
maintain the boundaries in accordance with the map as 
originally made. This duty, as well as that of the mainten- 
ance of the statistical record, is on the close of Settlement 
operations in each district made over to the Agricultural 

' The growth of land-revenue has been more satisfactory in 
Bombay than in any province. It began in a marked degree 
with the impetus given to cotton production at the time of the 
American War, and has been continued under the influence of 
rising prices, extended cultivation (and in Sindh, extended 
irrigation), supplemented by a careful system of assessment. 

' 48. In Assam the very backward state of the province and 
the absence of communication with the seaboard in the years 
immediately succeeding the mutiny, have made the growth of 
revenue in the later years appear to be exceptionally rapid. 
A part of the province (about 9,000 square miles) is, however, 
under the permanent Settlement system of Bengal, and the 
growth of revenue depends on the remaining area which is 
temporarily settled, chiefly with tenant-proprietors, at rates 
which are practically fixed, as there is hardly any compe- 
tition for land on account of the great extent of waste area 
which can be taken up. The most fully- occupied portion has 
been revised on the system employed in other temporarily- 
settled provinces, and this revision is nearly completed. The 
remainder will probably be surveyed and settled on a cheaper 
system under the direction of the Agricultural Department, 
and the whole province will thereafter come under the new 
arrangements. As in Bombay and Madras, there is an annual 

VOL. I. C C 


growth (estimated at from Ex. 8000 to Ex. 10,000 per annum) 
which is almost solely due to new occupation, as there is here 
no periodical growth due to increase of rates. 

' 49. Lower Burma has been undergoing for some years a 
regular revision of Settlement, of which about one-fifth, or 
nearly i o, ooo square miles, is completed. Each district, when 
it leaves the Settlement officer's hands, is made over to the 
permanent care of the Agricultural Department, which will 
henceforward be responsible for maintaining the maps and 
records. The land is held by tenant-proprietors, and there is 
again in this province a double growth due to annual increase 
of occupation and to periodical increase of rates. The annual 
assessments are complicated by the release of all fallow land 
from payment of any but a nominal revenue, but there is 
a steady extension of cultivation which, supplemented by the 
effect of a careful survey and assessment, has resulted in a 
growth of from two to three lakhs a year on a comparatively 
small total revenue. Lower Burma is practically a large rice- 
field formed by the alluvial deltas of the river systems, and at 
present it yields only i per cent, of other produce. About 
37,000 square miles, or 84 per cent, of its cultivable area, are 
still uncultivated, and there is room for further growth both 
by extension of cultivation and by the improvement of the 
agricultural system through the introduction of other crops. 
The soil is rich. 

' 50. Upper Burma is composed of high- lands, the agricultural 
value of which is under examination. The land-revenue is, 
like that of all border provinces on first-occupation, initially 
small ; but there is an equal promise of the same steady growth 
in the future which has taken place elsewhere. 

'51. The increase of revenue in minor provinces under the 
direct control of the Government of India is mainly due to the 
re-assessment of the little district of Ajmer and the addition of 
Quetta. ' 









C o 2 




i. Early History of the Presidency. 

THE limits of this work make it necessary for me to 
plunge somewhat abruptly into the history of the Bengal 
Settlement. But in this chapter, and in that which after- 
wards describes the Revenue Officers and their duties, I 
shall go into more detail than elsewhere, regarding the 
early history of our administration. The reason for this 
will be already apparent from the introductory chapter 
(Book I. Ch. V.) in which I have explained how the 
Bengal system is the parent of all others. To this day 
the district staff, the Collector and his assistants, by 
whatever other titles they may be locally known, exist on 
the model, and with many of the characteristics, of the 
original Bengal institution. And the principles which 
underlie the Bengal Settlement have not been without their 
influence on the later systems which in many respects 
depart widely from the old Bengal ideal. The strong con- 
viction of the advantages of a recognized landlord with 
a secure title, which moved the Government to make, and 


to congratulate itself upon, the Zamindari Settlement of 
Bengal, resulted indeed in a reaction which produced (after 
no little conflict) the raiyatu'dri systems of Madras and 
Bombay ; but it survives in the modified systems lying 
midway, as it were, between raiyatwdri and Zamindari 
that prevail in Upper India. 

Still our detail must be of a practical character, and I 
must therefore pass over many interesting phases of the 
history of the administrative system developed by the 
East India Company when it was changed from a trading 
corporation into the ruler of a great Empire l . 

I will only briefly recall certain salient points. 

BENGAL, which in the end became the first among the 
provinces, was at the outset the lowest in rank as well as 
the latest in origin. The ' President ' at the factory of Surat 
was originally the chief representative of the Company in 
the East. Madras was erected into a Presidency in 1653, 
and Bombay though still subordinate to Surat in 1668. 
The Bengal Presidency was not formally constituted till the 
next century had begun. 

Our trade with Bengal, no doubt, was established much 
earlier. It began practically with the factory at Balasur 
in 1643. But our permanent establishment following on 
the grant made in gratitude for some remarkable cures in 
the Imperial family effected by Surgeon Gabriel Boughton 
may be said to date from 1652. Sultan Shuj'a (one of 
the sons of Shah Jahan) was local ruler or Subadar of 
Bengal, and was favourable to the English and allowed a 
factory to be opened at Hughli. But that privilege was 
liable to all the changes and caprices of Oriental rule ; 
and it so happened that Shah Shuj'a's successor took a 
dislike to the traders, with the result that, after the affair 
of Job Charnock in 1686, the settlement was put an end to. 
But this was only for a time ; four years later, a reconci- 
liation was effected (as the loss from the cessation of our 

1 A succinct sketch will be found ministration Repwt for 1872-73 ; and 
in Phillips, Lecture vii. Also in the in Kaye, pp. 57-108 : and Field, 
Historical Summary of the Bengal Ad- chapter xix. 


trade was considerable), and Charnock returned and founded 
Calcutta in A.r>. 1690. Permission was obtained, in 1698, 
to buy out the rights of the landholders in the vicinity 
of Calcutta ; the Company thus became holder of estates, 
spoken of in the official language of the day, as ' in- 
dependent taluqs.' In 1699 Sir Charles Eyre was sent 
out to build the fort which was called after the reigning 
sovereign, and has given the name to the Presidency 
'Fort William in Bengal.' In 1707 this Presidency was 
formally recognized 1 . After this, nothing that is here 
noteworthy, occurred till the outbreak which culminated 
in the 'Black Hole' tragedy, and the battle of Plassey 
(Palasi), on the 23rd June, 1757- Affairs then took a new 
turn ; instead of the Company's officers being the humble 
dependants of the Mughal power, they became the real 
arbiters of affairs. The local governors or Subadars, were 
in fact created by the authority of Clive. By treaty the 
Company then became ' Zamindar ' of the town of Calcutta 
and the territory around known as 'The 24-Pergunnahs.' 
Afterwards the grant was made revenue-free 2 . 

In 1760 the 'Chaklas' or districts of Bard wan, Midnapore 
(Mednipur), and Chittagong (Chattagraon) were granted 
revenue-free. Lastly, in 1765 (i2th August), the grant of 
the ' Diwani,' or right of civil and revenue-administration 
of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa, was made to the Company, on 
condition of payment to the Emperor of a fixed sum of 
twenty-six lakhs annually, and of providing for the expense 
of the ' Nizamat,' i. e. the criminal and military administra- 
tion 3 . 

1 See Harington, vol. i. 2 ; and when no revenue had to be paid to 

Phillips, p. 231. Kaye gives 1715 the Imperial treasury, but every- 

as the date, pp. 67 and 76. thing was managed, and all dues 

a For the Sanad see Aitchison's appropriated, by the grantee. 

Treaties, vol. i. 15. The nature of * The Diw;ini means the office or 

the Zamindar's office under the jurisdiction of Diwun the civil 

Mughal government has already minister, as the Nizamat was of 

been sketched (see p. 184) ; and the ' Nazim,' or military governor. 

we shall presently study the subject Hence the term ' Diwani ' is still 

more in detail. But this grant used to mean ' civil ' as in the 

shows it was a position which then phrase Diwani 'Adalat, or Civil 

implied something very like the Court ; and ' Nizamat ' was long 

landlord's right; and doubly so used to mean 'criminal,' the chief 


This put the Company into virtual possession of the three 
provinces, the Orissa of 1765 including only the present 
Midnapore district, with part of Hughli, not the whole of 
the country now called by the same name. 

2. Commencement of British Rule. 

For some time no interference with the native officials 
was contemplated l . It was soon found, however, that the 
uncontrolled acts of local officials under a corrupt and 
effete system, produced results little short of intolerable. 
In 1769, 'Supervisors' were appointed in the hope of im- 
proving the administration. They were directed to acquire 
information as to the revenue-history of the province, going 
back for the purpose to a given era when good order and 
government had been universal ; they were to inquire into 
the real limits of 'estates' held by the Zamindars, the 
quantity of land they ought to have revenue-free, and the 
real 'rents' or payments which the actual cultivators of 

Criminal Court being called Nizamat pany's servants to the offices of Col- 

'Adalat. Now the term ' Faujdari ' lectors, or indeed to do any act by 

is used for Criminal Courts. But any exertion of the English power 

both terms indicate that the military would be throwing off the 

and criminal jurisdictions were con- mask, would be declaring the Coni- 
sidered as one and the same. The pany Suba of the province. Foreign 
grant of the Diwani did not theoreti- nations would immediately take 
vally give the whole rule of the umbrage,' &c. See Kaye, p. 78. 
country, but it did practically. (See Mr. Kaye is, I think, much too severe 
this explained in Cowell's Tagore on this policy : there was very little 
Lectures for 1872, pp. 26, 27.) 'gorging ourselves on the revenue 
1 Motives of policy, natural but and leaving the responsibility.' As 
short-sighted, impelled Clive to to the revenue, no system could 
leave the actual administration in well have brought in less to the 
the hands of the old native function- Government ; as to the form of ad- 
aries to be carried on in the name ministration, Clive had to consider 
of the Subadar. In 1767 Clive wrote the susceptibilities of the French 
to the Select Committee : 'We are a very present danger ; and it was 
sensible that since the acquisition with no desiretoshirk responsibility 
of the Diwani, the power formerly that the government was let alone, 
belonging to the Suba of these pro- but in a perfectly genuine belief 
vinces is totally, in fact, vested in that the native rule was best, as it 
the East India Company ; nothing was most politic. The Company 
remains to him but the name and had only a staif of merchants and 
shadow of authority. This name, writers, barely enough to manage 
however, and this shadow it is in- their commerce, and quite unequal, 
dispensably necessary that we should as Mr. Verelst wrote, to civil ad- 
venerate To appoint the Com- ministration. 


the soil ought to make in each estate. Various other im- 
provements were hoped for ; and especially illegal revenue- 
free holdings were to be properly assessed and made to 
pay. The cultivators were to be protected from the ex- 
actions of the Zamindars, and leases or ' pottahs ' (pattas), 
specifying exactly what each man had to pay, were to 
be granted 1 . 

The intention thus to supervise and control the native 
revenue-administration was no doubt excellent, but it 
entirely failed of realization: and on the 28th August, 
1771, the Court of Directors at home announced their 
intention ' to stand forth as Diwan, and by the agency of 
the Company's servants to take upon themselves the entire 
care and management of the revenues.' In India a pro- 
clamation to this effect was issued on iSth May, 1772, and 
Clive took his seat as Diwdn, or Minister of State charged 
with the Civil and Revenue administration of the Province, 
at the annual ceremony (punya) for settling the year's 
revenue, held near Murshidabad. That was the beginning 
of our direct revenue-control. 

But the idea of a Settlement and a recognition of the 
proprietary right in land, had not yet occurred to the 
Company's government. This is hardly to be wondered 
at. The whole theory of Indian land-revenue was abso- 
lutely strange to the English authorities. They could not 
tell who owned the land and who did not ; nor in what 
category to place the different native officials they found 
in the districts. Everything had to be learnt by slow ex- 
perience. There was no guide to the system, and no prin- 
ciples of law to which it could be referred ; nor were the 
Company's servants fitted by their training and antecedents 
to prescribe systems or devise administrative forms. As 
Mr. Kaye says, ' The Company's servants were dead hands 
at investments, but they know nothing of land-tenures.' 

1 This proposal should be noted, ing how the belief originated, which 

as showing that from the first, the was not abandoned till many years 

idea of protecting the rights of the after, that those rights would be 

cultivators was in the mind of our efficiently protected by the issue of 

administrators ; and also as show- definite written leases. 


3. Sketch of the early Revenue system. 

In 1772 the affairs of India had for the first time attracted 
such attention as to be mentioned in a Royal Speech to 
Parliament; the result was that the 'Regulating Act' of 
1773 was passed, and this (insufficient in detail as it after- 
wards proved) established the Governor-General and Council 
in Bengal with a power of supervision over the other Presi- 
dencies, and laid the foundation of a system of Courts of 
Justice, as well as of a series of written and published 
Regulations for the guidance of the authorities in India. 

Warren Hastings became Governor -General in 1772, 
and under him, reforms were at once undertaken. The 
mercantile element in the Company's service was gradually 
replaced, or supplemented, by men who could become civil 
administrators, and the Collectors and assistants were given 
more reasonable salaries instead of being expected to eke 
out a merely nominal subsistence allowance by profits of 
private trade, and by other more questionable means. It 
was not to be expected that while such changes were in 
progress, a Revenue Settlement system could all at once 
come into view. The plan first adopted was to give out 
the revenues in farm for five years. Each ' pargana ' was 
separately farmed ; unless indeed the pargana gave more 
than one lakh (ioo,coo) of rupees revenue, in which case it 
was divided. ' Collectors ' were for the first time appointed 
(instead of Supervisors) to receive the revenue 1 . A native 
Diwan was associated with them, and they were superin- 
tended by Revenue Councils at Murshidabad and Patna. 

The existing Zamindars (who managed the revenue 
under the Native rule) were not necessarily to be displaced 
by this arrangement; but they often refused to contract 
for the total sums demanded, so that other farmers were 
appointed, and in some cases injustice was done. 

1 In the chapter on Revenue tails about the five years' system of 

business and officials, the history of 1772 will be found in Field, pp. 477 

the Collectors, Commissioners, &c., et seq. 
will be more fully gone into. De- 


Stringent orders were given to prevent the farmers 
robbing the cultivators or raiyats, and to make them 
adhere to the 'hast-o-bud 1 ,' or lists showing the rents 
which it was customary for the raiyats to pay, and to 
prevent illegal cesses being collected. 

Notwithstanding the best intentions, and that the members 
of the Central Revenue Committee went on circuit to arrange 
details, the new farming system proved a failure, as such 
systems always do. They required the utmost honesty in 
the lessees, and that honesty did not exist. They required 
also that the amounts bid for should be really fair, and fixed 
with reference to the real resources of the estates ; they also 
required local supervision based on a minute knowledge of 
details, neither of which requirements can be said to have 
been attainable. The leases were arranged too much in the 
auction-room 2 ; the data for real assessments were wanting. 
And if the total amounts could not be checked, any de- 
tailed watchfulness over village collections was impossible ; 
officers were too few, their knowledge too imperfect, and 
the local machinery the kdnungo and the patwdrt, which 
our best modern systems have developed and instructed 
were either wholly wanting, or existed only in name, the 
holders of the offices being persons under the absolute 
control of those whose object was to deceive 3 . But perhaps 
the greatest cause of the failure of the farm system, was 
the widespread and decimating famine of 1770, on account 
of which enormous remissions of revenue had to be made 4 . 
It was not without reason that the Court of Directors wrote 
in 1773 (speaking of the failure of the system of Supervisors 

1 Literally (Persian) ' is and was ' ; the cancelment of the lease should 
in fact, the actual and customary follow extortion ; but there was no 
rent-roll without arbitrary additions one to enforce these provisions. See 
to it. Field, p. 481. 

2 The farmers in many cases were 3 See pp. 256, 284. 

mere speculators who bid up the * What that famine was in one 

leases, hoping to get an uncontrolled district Birbhum has been told 

power to take what they liked. in piteous and graphic language in 

Excellent orders were issued to pre- Hunter's Annals of Rural Bengal. As 

vent this. Nothing was to be taken to the remissions, see Kaye, p. 168, 

from the raiyat beyond what was in note, 
his patta, and a heavy penalty and 


before 1772): 'Every attempt for the reforming of abuses 
has rather increased them, and added to the miseries of 
the country we are anxious to protect and cherish.' As a 
partial remedy it was determined, under instructions from 
the Court of Directors, to abolish the agency of Collectors, 
and try again the ' Amil ' or Native local Collector of the 
first Mughal system. Had a strong district staff kept 
watch over these agents, the results might have been 
different ; but unfortunately, the local Collectors were 
abolished and the only direct supervision was given by 
Councils placed at distant points of the province. For this 
purpose the country was divided into six divisions with a 
Provincial Revenue Council for each. Five of these sat 
at Bardwan, Patna, Miirshidabad, Dinajpur, and Dakha 
(Dacca). The central Revenue Committee at Calcutta, 
which had a general control over the whole, also undertook 
the direct management of the sixth division, which was 
the Orissa of those days. 

When the period of five years' farms was about to expire, 
Warren Hastings was carefully considering what system 
should next be followed. But unfortunately, at this time, 
the opposition of Francis, and the unseemly strife which 
resulted from the imperfect constitution of the Governor- 
General's office in relation to the Council, were at their 
height l ; otherwise there can be no doubt that Hastings' 
advice was good. To gain information about the land 
tenures ; to protect the raiyats, whom he perceived to be 
the real ultimate producers of revenue ; not to commit 
himself to Settlement with any class for a long period, 
without fuller knowledge ; these were the points on which 
he insisted. 

1 Francis at that time had the ludicrous discomfiture of his foe 
benefit of John Shore's advice, \vho (Kaye, p. 170). It is satisfactory to 
wrote his minutes for him. ' The know that Shore lived to repent of 
Councillor seasoned those minutes his association with Francis, and 
with the necessary amount of became the friend of Hastings, as he 
acrimony, and then served them up afterwards was President of the 
as his own.' When Shore fell sick, Revenue Board and the trusted 
Francis, it is said, was silent, and adviser of the Marquis of Corn- 
Hastings smiled grimly at the wallis. 


It was not, however, till the death of Colonel Monson 
had given Warren Hastings a majority, that (in 1776) his 
designs could be given effect to. Meanwhile the farming- 
leases expired, and the Court of Directors did not exactly 
agree to any plan sent home, while they did not offer any 
substitute of their own, beyond directing annual leases to 
the Zamindars whenever possible. These instructions are, 
however, noteworthy, because in them for the first time it 
was ordered that if the Zamindars fell into arrears they 
should be liable to be ' dispossessed, and their Zamindaris, 
or portions of them, shall be sold to make up the defici- 
ency V 

Meanwhile, under Hastings' orders, a commission was 
issued to three officers to travel about and collect further 
information. They made their report in March 1778. 
During this period annual Settlements were made, i. e. in 
J 777> I 77^ J 1779, and 1780. In 1781 several 'Regulations' 
were enacted 2 . Notably, the six Provincial Committees 
were abolished, and a Metropolitan ' Committee of Revenue ' 
(four members, of which the chief was Shore, afterwards 
Lord Teignmouth) was appointed. This Committee at once 
proceeded to report on a mode of Settlement, and recom- 
mended that the plan 'most convenient and secure for 
Government, and the best for the raiyats and country, is } 
in general, to leave the lands with the Zamindars, making 
the Settlement with them.' 

Meanwhile the annual Settlements were continued. We 
now come to the eventful year 1786, when, in the autumn, 
the Swallow arrived bringing Lord Cornwallis, and with 
him John Shore, who had been appointed (as just stated) 
to the Board of Revenue. It should be noted, that in this 
year it was found (as might have been expected) that the 

1 Kaye, p. 172. afterwards reconstructed as the 

2 The reader will recollect that Bengal Code in 1793, were not in 
the provisions for Regulations in exact accordance even with the 
the Act of 1773 were insufficient. powers given, so they had after- 
The defect was partially removed wards to be finally legalized by the 
by an Act in 1781 ; but even then Act of 1797 (37 Geo. III., sec. 142). 
the Regulations made, which were 


Collectors were indispensable, and they were reappointed 
to the number of thirty-six (afterwards reduced to twenty- 
three). In this year, also, the Central Committee became 
the Board of Revenue. 

I should also mention that, in 1782, a definite attempt 
was made to regulate the holding of lands revenue-free, and 
to ' resume ' or charge with revenue, those that were held 
without authority: the office for registration and inquiry 
was called the ' ba'zi-zamin-daftar ' (office for certain lands). 

The yearly Settlements (latterly with Zamfndars always, 
unless expressly disqualified) continued till 1789. 

Two things will here strike the reader ; one is how little 
in a hurry Lord Cornwallis was to take action. The other 
is, how all attempts to dispense with the Zaminddr failed, 
and that in spite of repeated efforts to be free of him. 

It is also instructive to note how little use central control 
proves when the local agency is defective. 

The Board, far removed from the actual scene of opera- 
tions, knew nothing of the real state of affairs, and the 
diwans and local officers combined with the Zamindars and 
others to deceive them. 

4. A.D. 1786. Plans of Lord Cormuallis. 

Before Lord Cornwallis arrived. Barliament had passed 
the Act 24 George III., cap. 25, in 1784. And Lord Corn- 
wallis came out with instructions for carrying this Act 
into effect. 

The law indicated, as the means for ensuring a proper 
Settlement, an inquiry into the real ' jurisdictions, rights, and 
privileges ' of Zamindars, Taluqdars, and Jagirdai's under 
the Mughal and Hindu governments, and what they were 
bound to pay ; it also directed the redress of the grievances 
of those who had been unjustly displaced in the course of 
the earlier tentative and imperfect revenue arrangements. 
The Court of Directors suggested that the Settlement should 
be with the ' landholders,' but at the same time 'maintain- 
ing the rights of all descriptions of persons. As for the 

CHAP. I.] 



revenue, it was desired that there should be a durable 
assessment, based on a review of the Settlements and actual 
collections of former years. It was thought that the various 
inquiries which had been ordered ever since 1765 would 
have resulted in a sufficient knowledge of the paying capa- 
city of the estates, and therefore a Settlement for ten years 
was ordered. The Court then thought that a fixed period 
of ten years would be better than promising a ' dubious 
perpetuity ' ; but they directed that, on completion of the 
arrangements, the whole matter should be fully and minutely 
reported on, so that they might have an opportunity of 
settling the whole question, without necessity for further 
reference or future change. 

As I have said, while these arrangements were in pro- 
gress, the Settlements continued to be annual, and Lord 
Cornwallis was so little in a hurry to carry out any scheme 
of his own, that he continued seeking for fuller knowledge. 
'No efforts,' says Mr. Cotton, 'were spared to increase the 
store of information.' The vast body of opinions thus 
collected was declared by the celebrated Fifth Report to be 
' too voluminous to lay before the House V 

5. Issue of Regulations forming a legal basis for 
a Decennial Settlement. 

Meanwhile, the rules for the decennial Settlement were 
being elaborated. They were issued on the completion of 
Mr. Shore's celebrated Minutes of 1788, and of June and 
September, 1789^ The rules for settling Bengal, Bihar, 
and Orissa (as then constituted) were separately issued 
between 1789 and I79O 3 . 

1 See Cotton's Memorandum on the 
Revenue History of Chittagong (Calcutta, 
1880), p. 50. Unfortunately, how- 
ever, they consisted chiefly of 
opinions and masses of detail about 
accounts, which did not in the least 
suffice to solve difficulties when it 
came to a question of assessing in- 
dividual lands or estates, still less of 
fixing the raiyats' payments on an 
equitable basis. 

2 The Minutes of 1789 are printed 
in the appendix to the Fifth Report. 
but not the elaborate Minute of 
1788 with its appendices, giving 
Shore's information about the rise 
and growth of the Zamindari title, 
and its becoming proprietary. This 
latter is consequently given in ex- 
tenso in Harington, vol. iii. (and in 
the Reprint). 

3 As to the rules, see Harington, 


When Lord Cornwallis commenced the codification of the 
Regulations in 1793, these rules (amended and completed) 
formed one of the forty-three Regulations passed on the 
same day, and have since been borne on the Statute-book 
as Regulation VIII of 1793. 

This is the law under which the ' decennial Settlement ' 
of Bengal was made. 

6. Result reported to the Home Authorities. The 
Permanent Settlement. 

When the inquiries had been completed, report was made, 
as ordered, to the Court of Directors at home. Lord Corn- 
wallis was for making the Settlement permanent at once. 
But the Court of Directors, knowing that Shore and other 
able advisers deprecated the immediate declaration of per- 
manence, deliberated for two years, and it was not till 
September, 1792, that they sent a despatch consenting to 
the proposal. On receipt of this, Lord Cornwallis, by pro- 
clamation of 22nd March, 1793, declared the decennial 
Settlement to be ' permanent.' This proclamation was also 
included in the Statute-book of 1793, as Regulation I of 
that year l . 

The student will then bear in mind that the Bengal 
Settlement has two main features, which must not be 

vol. ii. p. 171. The dates were : Court of Directors to 'declare the 

Bihar . . i8th September, 1789. jumma which has been or may be 

Orissa . . 25th November, 1789. assessed upon their lands . . . fixed 

Bengal.. loth February, 1790. for ever,' went on to say: 'The 

Having undergone alteration and Governor-General in Council ac- 

received additions, they were issued cordingly declares to the Zamindars, 

with translations on 23rd November, independent taluqdars, and other 

1791, and in this form are given at actual proprietors of land, with or 

length in Colebrooke's Digest of the on behalf of whom a Settlement has 

Regulations, vol. iii. p. 308. Still been completed, that at the expira- 

further improved, they were ulti- tion of the term of the Settlement 

mately legalized, as above stated, in [ten years] no alteration will be 

Regulation VIII of 1793. It is to made in the assessment which they 

the provisions as they appear in have respectively engaged to pay, 

Regulation that reference is made but that they and their heirs and 

in the text. lawful successors will be allowed to 

1 The proclamation, after reciting hold their estates at such assessment 

that the Governor-General in Coun- for ever.' 

cil had been empowered by the 


confused. Either one might have been adopted without 
the other. They were 

(1) That the Zamindars were settled with ; and as they 

could not fulfil their obligations to the State, nor 
take an interest in their estates without some 
definite legal status, they were declared proprie- 
tors of the areas over which their revenue-collec- 
tion extended. That proprietary right, however, 
was a limited one ; it was subject, on the one 
hand, to the payment of revenue to Government, 
and to liability to have the estate sold at once on 
failure to pay; and it was subject, on the other 
hand, to the just rights of the old and original 
cultivators of the soil, the raiyats, dependent 
taluqdars, and others. The Zamindar was accepted 
as the person to be settled with, not as a matter of 
chance, but as one of deliberate policy, and on 
administrative grounds. 

(2) The other main feature was that the assessments 

fixed in the manner presently to be described, 
were declared to be unalterable for ever. 
From these two features, the Settlement of 1793 has 
acquired the name of the PERMANENT Settlement, also 
(sometimes) that of the ZAMINDAEI Settlement of Bengal. 

7. General reflections on the Settlement of 1789-93. 

Let me here pause to correct one of the common 
misapprehensions about the Permanent Settlement with 
Zamindars. Let me ask whether it was possible for the 
English administrators to do anything else than acknow- 
ledge them ? 

In the first place, I have already explained in a general 
way (and shall give some further details in the sequel), that 
some of the Zamindars were old Rajas who had a very close 
connection with the land, and on whom the people greatly 

VOL. i. I) d 


In the next place, there was the strong practical argu- 
ment that every attempt to dispense with the Zamindars 
had been a failure ; injustice had been done, and the Statute 
of 1784 had insisted on the 'ancient immunities and 
privileges ' of the Zamindars being respected. All previous 
experience had shown that it was impossible to dispense 
with their agency 1 . Even when each enormous district 
(as it then was) had its one European Collector, it would 
have been quite impossible for him to deal with thousands 
of detailed holdings ; how much more would this apply 
before that date, when, as from 1772-79, there had been 
only councils or committees for controlling revenue matters 
at one time six of them for all the districts included in 
Bengal, Bihar, and what was then Orissa ! 

Against these forcible facts it was of little use to take 
the opinions of experts and historians 2 as to what were 
the origin and design, or the limitations, of the office of 
Zamindar. The theory is probably much clearer to us, with 
all the authorities at hand, than it was to the Collector of 
1789; but what he was concerned with was not the true 
theory of origin, but the practical position at the end of the 
eighteenth century. 

There was no hand-book of ancient law to guide the 
Collectors in understanding the history of landholding, to 
direct their attention to the origin of villages, the units 

1 This is very instructive. In the trouble of going into any detail. 

Akbar's time, the whole country This was the system our early 

was divided out into ' Sirkars.' and administrators found already long 

these into parganas, each with its established. In the position they 

vigilant revenue 'amil, and the par- were placed in, it was utterly im- 

ganas even had recognized sub- possible for them to have restored 

divisions under petty revenue the ' Akbarian ' method, as we have 

officers. As long as this system now restored it in Northern India, 

was kept working by a powerful The ' tahsildars,' and all the host of 

Government, the revenue was not local officials trained and able to 

intercepted, the people were not carry out such a system, are the 

oppressed. The moment the Go- product of a century of British rule, 

vernment became too weak to con- In 1 789 no such persons could have 

trol the machinery, the subdivisions been found. 

disappeared, and then the revenue 2 This was freely done. See the 

could only be collected by the agency series of questions and answers 

of great farmers, who undertook to appended to Mr. Shore's Minute of 

pay a fixed sum for a certain portion 1788. 
of territory, saving the Government 


composing the great estates, or to explain what those 
aggregates of cultivators meant, in the light of a compara- 
tive study of early customs and institutions. Their only 
conception of landholding was embodied in the English 
landlord with his tenants. And it is impossible to deny 
that the Zamindar was more like a landlord than anything 
else 1 . True it was that the tenants' holdings were not 
valued like English farms and offered to tenants at the 
consequent rent, to be taken or left at the tenants' pleasure. 
Even in England tenants had been on farms for genera- 
tions. The superficial differences were not greater than 
what differences of race and climate would account for ; 
and the deeper but minuter differences were unperceived, 
because land-tenures had not been cleared up as they have 
now. The Zamindar was more oppressive than an English 
landlord, therefore measures of protection were required 
for the tenantry : that seemed the chief, if not the only 

Grievous as the failure of the Permanent Settlement has 
been, its failure is not due to the fact that Zamindars were 
confirmed, or that, in the unavoidable necessity of defining 
and securing their position in English legal documents, 
they were called and made, landlords. The evil consisted 
in this, that their right was not limited with regard to all 
the older raiyats, leaving new-comers to be in principle 
(with such detailed conditions as might be advisable) 
contract-tenants. The other evil that of assuming to 
a legislature the power of binding all future lawgivers, 
and permanently exempting a certain class of proprietors 
from their due share of the State burdens at the expense 
of other people and provinces that is a matter quite 
unconnected with the grant of proprietary rights or the 
protection of tenants. 

I shall point out in due course, the ample evidence there 
is, that from 1769 onwards, the rights of the raiyats were 

1 At any rate he must have ap- not explain itself to the Company's 
peared to combine the landlord and servants of 1 789. 
collector in a fashion which could 

D d 2 


never intended to be forgotten ; but it is easy for us now, 
after half a century of inquiry and discussion about tenant 
right, and with the experience gained in many provinces 
and their Settlements, to criticise our predecessors of 1790. 
At that time no one knew what practical steps to take. 
Collectors knew that village rolls ' hast-o-biid,' ' raibandi,' 
or whatever other name they were known by existed, 
showing the sums payable by raiyats; but how these 
sums were ascertained and how far they could be altered 
periodically, and on what principles if any, they did 
not know. ' Pargana rates ' were talked of rather than 
actually adopted or enforced ; for re-assessments were 
periodically made, or rather, virtual additions to the old 
rates were covered by the irregular expedient of ' cesses ' 
and ' benevolences ' (abwab, &c.). With this knowledge, it 
is hardly wonderful that they should have thought the one 
and sufficient remedy to be the compulsory issue of 'pot- 
tihs' or leases to the tenants, setting forth what the 
payment was, and hoping that vague traditional ' pargana 
rates' would be, or could be, respected. It was not 
foreseen that the ' pattas ' would not be generally granted, 
and that no machinery existed for seeing that they were 
granted ; still less was it suspected, that, as afterwards 
proved to be the case, the patta would be turned when used 
at all into an engine of extortion. 

Another point must be mentioned, and that is that the 
Zamindari Settlement was not Lord Cornwallis's idea. It 
was distinctly ordered in April, 1786, by the home authori- 
ties : it was advocated by all the chief revenue authorities 
in Bengal. Shore, though he deprecated the hasty assess- 
ment of the amount of land-revenue in perpetuity, never 
hesitated in recommending the grant of a secure estate to 
the Zamindar. Mr. Thomas Law, Collector of Bihar, was 
indefatigable in writing in favour of a Zamindari Settle- 
ment. Mr. Brook of Shahabad was also urgent in its sup- 
port. The Settlement was then, as Mr. Kaye says truly, 
the work of the Company's Civil servants. No doubt it 
fell in with Lord Cornwallis's views, because, as I have 


said, no one at that time could have thought of imagining 
a theory of village communities or of village Settlements. 
It was not till some years after, that the existence of 
villages, with all their customs in full force, in Benares, 
attracted the attention of Mi 1 . Duncan, the Resident, in 
1795-6. Even then it is only necessary to read the report 
to see how completely the landlord theory as the only one 
realized was in the mind of the writer l . 

When Lord Cornwallis, supported by the general opinion, 
had made up his mind and he deliberated carefully from 
1786 to 1793 that the Zaminddri Settlement was the 
right thing, he further considered that it would be useless 
unless the assessment was also declared Permanent. 

In this one point Lord Cornwallis may be charged with 
haste he might have let the originally ordered ten years 
run out, and then see what it was best to do. His arguments 
in favour of permanency of the assessment some of them 
based on grave mistakes of fact 2 hardly answered the 
objections of Mr. Shore. 

It is worthy of note here, that while Shore thought it 
right to declare the Zamindars proprietors, he held that 
time would be required to settle what, under the circum- 
stances, was really meant by the proprietary right con- 
ferred 3 . He did not observe any specific rules for the 
security of the raiyats ; he well knew ' the difficulty of 
making them, but some must be established. Until the 
variable rules adopted in adjusting the rent of the raiyats, 
are simplified and rendered more definite,' he added, 'no 
solid improvement can be expected from their labours 
upon which the prosperity of the country depends.' With 
true foresight Mr. Shore further predicted that 'if the 

1 Instances of this will also be everything of supposing that the 

seen even in the minutes made raiyats paid rents by agreement with 

thirty years later, when the North- the Zamindars. See Field, p. 490. 

Western Provinces villages were &c., quoting the minute of i8tli 

beginning to be understood ^ Re venue June, 1789, and Lord Cornwallis'* 

Selections, North- Western Pro- reply, 

vinces, 1818 22 . * Mr. Shore's own words will be 

* As, e. g., what Dr. Field calls found quoted further on. 
the 'cardinal' mistake it vitiates 


Zamindars were left to make their own arrangements 
with the raiyats without restriction, the present confusion 
would never be adjusted.' The system, in short, had not 
defined the relation of the new ' landlord ' to his ' tenant ' ; 
would it not be better to introduce a new system by 
degrees than to establish it at once beyond the power of 
revocation ? 

On the other hand, it may be urged that probably the 
consideration which most weighed with Lord Comwallis, 
was one that would not take long to mature. He was 
certain he had done the right thing in making the Zamin- 
dar proprietor ; he believed that legislation would protect 
the raiyat; but that if the Settlement, as a whole, was 
not closed for ever, a revision might occur, which would 
shake the Zamindar's position, and so at any moment, all 
his benevolent work might be undone. In this, of course, 
he was wrong : reassessment based on just principles of 
growth in the cultivated area and rise in prices, has 
nothing to do with unsettling fixed rights of property, any 
more than a revision of income-tax renders the capi- 
talist's position as a man of property insecure. But that 
was not understood. It will be remembered that the 
Zamindar's revenue, as fixed in 1793, was not a light one 
under the circumstances. It was certainly supposed that 
many of the raiyats would pay fixed rents : and it was 
thought that if the Zamindar was to be secure and pros- 
perous, his revenue could not be raised. True, he would 
cultivate more waste which would bring in new rents ; 
and in some undefined way, some rents would rise by 
improved cultivation 1 , but that would only be his legiti- 
mate profit ; he would become rich and would then import 
luxuries, live at ease, and enrich the treasury by the indirect 
taxation he would pay on import of commodities 2 . 

1 And so they would. It was a not raised. Whatever the truth 

question of paying rent in kind. A may be, expressions occur in the 

bad tenant gets three- hundred seers early minutes alluding to a rise in 

of wheat off an acre, and the land- rental, just as often as those which imply 

lord gets one half. A good one gets fixity of rents. 

five hundred, and the landlord 2 ' Every man,' wrote Mr. Law, 

benefits thereby, though the rent is ' will lay out money in permanent 


All this seemed at the time, and backed by Mr. Law's 
glowing periods about the gratitude of ancient Zamindar 
and jagirdar families restored to opulence, to point conclu- 
sively to the permanence of the assessment, as well as the 
security of the landlord's title. 

Unfortunately, facts, as they afterwards developed, could 
not be foreseen; the necessity for punctual payments in- 
volved a severe law for recovery ; the sale lavjs had from the 
first suggested themselves without question ; and indeed the 
law would have acted with much diminished harshness if it 
had not been for the characteristics of the landlords. They 
were indolent and extravagant ; they did nothing for the 
land ; and even when there was no glaring personal defect, 
the climate and the habits of the country unfortunately 
suggested that the proprietor should save himself trouble 
by farming out his estate to any one who would give him 
the largest profit over and above his revenue-payment. 
And as the proprietor's farmer in time grew rich, what 
with freedom from war, and security, and the daily in- 
creasing value of land, so he too farmed his interest to 
others, till farm within farm became the order of the day, 
each resembling a screw upon a screw, the last coming 
down on the tenant with the pressure of them all. But 
who could have foretold this in 1790 ? 

We must now return to the direct narrative of the pro- 
gress of the Settlement. 

8. Procedure of Settlement. Absence of a Survey. 

One of the first things that will strike the student is 
that the Settlement was made without ascertaining the 
boundaries of the estates and without a survey. The cost 

structures, as such works enhance raise a class of native gentlemen 

the value of his estate and promise proprietors, who will gradually have 

future benefit. If a scarcity happens established themselves in good 

the landholders will forego demands, houses with the various comforts of 

and encourage cultivation to pre- life.' (See Kaye, p. 178.) See also 

serve their tenants, who become a par. 32 of Revenue letter to Bengal, 

part of their necessary property. ist February, i8ir ; Field, p. 544. 
The increasing independence will 


of survey would have then been great, and the requisite 
establishment such as could hardly have been contem- 
plated with equanimity; moreover there were visionary 
advantages in abstaining from measurement and inquiry 
which then commanded much attention. 

The direct consequence of admitting the Zamindar to 
the position of an English landlord, was a desire to leave 
him in the enjoyment, as far as possible, of the independ- 
ence dear to an English landholder. What need was there, 
the rulers of those days thought, to harass the proprietor 
we have established and now wish to encourage, by survey- 
ing or measuring his lands and making an inquisition into 
his affairs ? Fix his revenue as it has all along been paid, 
or .correct the recorded amount if it is wrong ; sweep away 
illegal taxes, resume what land is unfairly held without 
paying revenue, and then leave the proprietor in peace. 
If some neighbour disputes his boundary, if there is room 
to believe that he is encroaching, let them go to law and 
decide the fact. 

Besides this feeling, there was another, which at fir&t 
made a survey unacceptable. Strange as it may appear to 
European ideas, measurement was looked on with great 
dread, both by Zamindar and raiyat. Whenever the raiyat 
had to pay a very heavy rent, or the Zamindar to satisfy 
a high revenue demand, both were glad to have a little (or 
often a good deal) more land than they were in theory 
supposed to pay on. 

It was always found an effective process under the 
Mughal rule, to threaten a raiyat with the measurement of 
his lands ; for his ' rent ' was fixed at so much for so many 
bighds. If this rent was oppressive, as it often was, his 
only chance of meeting that obligation was that he really 
held some bigJids in excess of what he paid for, and this 
would be found out on measurement. But that was not 
the only danger ; the landholder well knew that even if he 
had no excess whatever, still the adverse measurer would 
inevitably make out the contrary. By raising the ' jarib,' 
or measuring rod, in the middle, and by many other such 

CHAP. I.] 



devices, he would make the bighd small, and so produce 
a result showing the unfortunate raiyat to be holding 
more than he was paying for ; and increased rent for the 
alleged surplus was immediately exacted. In the same 
way the Zamindar, even though the Settlement law was 
explicit, thought it on the whole safer to have the details 
of his estate as little denned (at least under the eyes of the 
Collector) as possible. 

Of course, the want of survey and boundary demarcation 
led, as we shall afterwards see, to great difficulties ; and 
various enactments have been since passed to provide a 
proper register of estates and a survey to ascertain their 
true limits ; but it is not difficult to understand why a 
survey was not at first thought of. At that time nearly 
all the occupied parts l of the districts were divided out 
into ' Zamindaris.' In a few instances in Bengal, but more 
commonly in Bihar, the estates were called 'jagir,' and 
some estates were held by grantees called ' taluqdars.' But 
whatever the title, the actual allotments of land forming 
the settled estates were those mentioned in the native 
revenue records. As before stated, there were no maps or 
plans or statements of area ; the boundaries of the estate 
were vaguely described in words, and a list of the villages 
included was given ; but the limits of these were very 
imperfectly known, especially where a large portion was 
waste. Each Zamindar held a warrant, or ' sanad,' under 
which the Emperor or his deputy had created the ' estate ' ; 
and that specified the revenue that was to be paid, and 
declared the Zamindar's duties ; but the limits of the estate 
were only indicated by the string of names of villages or 

1 I say ' occupied parts,' for at 
that time a majority of the districts, 
especially those near the hilly tracts, 
" had large areas still waste, but never- 
theless forming part of the Zamin- 
d&ri, or at least claimed as such. 
Lord Cornwallis stated that one- 
third of the Company's possessions 
was waste at the time when the 

Settlement work began. The object 
of the Settlement of 1793 was to 
recognize all the land, waste or cul- 
turable, in each Zamindari, as the 
property of the Zamindar ; but no 
doubt at that time there was very 
little certainty as to what was 
really included in the estate. See 
Fifth Report, vol. i. p. 18. 


9. The Property made transferable. 

It is hardly needed to remark that the 'property' granted 
to the Zamindars was made transferable, which, it was 
expressly stated, it previously had not been. The 8th 
Article of the proclamation sets forth 

'That no doubts may be entertained, &c., the Governor- 
General in Council notifies to the Zamindars, &c., that they 
are privileged to transfer to whomsoever they may think proper, 
by sale, gift, or otherwise, their proprietary rights in the whole 
or any part of their respective estates without applying to 
Government for its sanction to the transfer ; and that all such 
transfers will be held valid, provided that they be conformable 
to the Muhammadan or Hindu law . . . and that they be not 
repugnant to any regulations now in force which may have 
been passed by the British Administrations, or to any regu- 
lations that they may hereafter enact 1 .' 

10. Selection of Zaminddrs. Joint Estates. Refusal of 

Some curious restrictions were at first placed on the 
selection of persons to be Zamindar-proprietors. It was 
at one time attempted to exclude from Settlement not only 
minors and females incompetent to manage their estates, 
but also persons of ' notorious profligacy ' or ' disqualified 
by contumacy.' These grounds of exclusion, being of 
course impracticable to prove satisfactorily, and being sure 
to give rise to great scandals, owing to the necessity of an 
inquiry in Court, were ultimately given up 2 . As regards 
estates of minors and others unable to take care of their 
own rights, they were placed under the Court of Wards, and 
managed on behalf of the incompetent owners. 

When there were several shareholders in an estate, there 
was at first a rule to make them elect a manager. This 

1 The subject is further mentioned attempted to lay down the method 
in the preamble to Reg. II of 1793. of charging, defending, and esta- 

2 See Reg. VII of 1796. Reg X blishing such objections, 
of 1793 (Section 5, clause 4) had 


failed, and after a time the law was altered, and they were 
left to manage as they pleased, but were held jointly and 
severally responsible for the revenue. The law, however, 
permitted a partition and a complete severance of responsi- 
bility if the sharers wished it. 

When there were cases of doubtful or disputed boundary, 
possession was looked to ; and if possession could not be 
ascertained, the estate was held by the Government officers 
(held ' kbas ' as the revenue phrase is) till the dispute was 
legally settled. 

If the Zammdar declined Settlement (i.e. objected to pay 
the amount assessed and the proper authorities refused to 
reduce it) the lands were farmed or held khas, and the 
ex-proprietor got a ' malikana,' or allowance of 10 per cent, 
on the Government assessment. 

I may add that such refusals were rare, for though some 
refused the terms for the decennial Settlement, they accepted 
when the proclamation of perpetuity was issued. 

ii. Dependent and independent Taluqddrs. 

The Regulation prescribed that the Settlement was to 
be made with ' Zamindars, taluqdars, and other actual pro- 
prietors ' ; that implies that the Zamindars were not the 
only persons entitled to be recognized as proprietors. 

I have mentioned that there were grantees of the State 
called taluqdars. These were sometimes separate grants, 
outside and 'independent' of the Zamindar's estate 1 , in 
which case they paid revenue direct to the treasury. Some- 
times, being of an inferior order, they were found inside the 
estate, and were then 'dependent' on the Zammdar, and 
paid through him. Rules were laid down for determining 
when the taluqd&r was to be settled with separately as 
proprietor, and when he was considered as subordinate to 
the Zamindar. 

1 Called also ' Huziiri' taluqas, i.e. authority ; or ; kharija,' i. e. outside, 
paying revenue direct to the Huzur, or without, the Zamindsiri estate 
or headquarters of the Government and control. 


This was a matter of no little importance. Every one 
who could get himself treated separately, became an inde- 
pendent proprietor with his revenue settled for ever. A 
taluqdar who could not establish his right to be separate, 
though he might have substantial privileges as to his 
tenure and the non-enhancement of his rent, still was only 
a subordinate a raiyat, or as he is now called, a ' tenure - 

The Kegulation also mentions that there were taluqdars 
who had purchased or obtained their title by gift from the 
Zamindar. These were independent ; so were persons who 
held grants direct from the Government, also taluqs which 
had been created before the Zamindari. A rule was also 
made that if the Zamindar was proved to have exacted 
more than was due, any taluqdar might ask that his estate 
should be separated. On the other hand, leases granted for 
clearing waste, and called ' jangalburi-taluqs/ were treated 
as only subordinate. 

As to the origin of these various taluqs, I must defer 
details till we come to Chap. III. Sec. iii, where the matter 
is regarded from the tenure point of view, whereas here we 
are dealing with the question of Revenue Settlement only. 

There were also grants known as ' afma ' (of which here- 
after). If these had been granted free of all payment, they 
were treated as independent properties ; but if only granted 
at a quit-rent, or with the annexed condition that the 
holder was to clear the waste,, they were subordinate 

When the taluqs were granted by the Native Govern- 
ment under the denomination of ' muqarrari ' or ' istimrari ' 
(or both terms t6gether), they were independent. Of these 
terms, the former means 'fixed' as regards the rent or 
revenue, and the latter ' firm ' or ' in perpetuity ' as regards 
the tenure. 

Such a grant implied that whether the grantee were or 
were not proprietor, the whole rent or assessment would go 
to him, and only the fixed (muqarrar) proportion be passed 
on by him to the Treasury. This sum of course was much 


less than the full assessment. Here clearly the grantee was 
independent of any Zamindar. If his grant was not 
istimrari, in perpetuity, but only for life, then on its expiry 
the succeeding holder would still be entitled to separation, as 
clearly he had not had anything to do with the Zamindar, 
but only with the authority which made the grant. 

It will be remembered that there are tenures under these 
same names ' muqarrari,' &c. but granted by the Zarain- 
ddr, not by the State: in that case they are only sub- 
ordinate tenures, though the rents may be ' fixed,' and the 
right to hold be ' in perpetuity.' 

The Collector's duty is limited to determining the ques- 
tion whether the 'taluq' ought to be independent or not. 
He had nothing to do with the validity of the title itself if 
that was disputed 1 . 

It was hoped that the process of inquiry would be ter- 
minated with the Settlement, but it seems that for some 
years after, people kept on filing applications for separate 
recognition, and it became necessary to give a year's grace 
for such applications, after which no further requests would 
be listened to 2 . 

These remarks will not make clear the nature of the 
tenures spoken of, but they are intended to indicate how 
that besides ' Zamindaris,' there were many other estates 

1 Of course if a Zamindari estate wards made to the Civil Court, 
was held jointly and the sharers When the Zamindar had previously 
separated, each would become a engaged for the revenue of his 
separate independent proprietor. Zamindari, including the taluqs, he 

Mortgagees in possession were was allowed an abatement to the 

settled with, the mortgagee taking amount separately assessed on the 

the place on redemption. latter as previously stipulated with 

The Settlement was also always him. Of course, all this applied 

made with the person in possession ; a only to taluqs existing or created 

claimant out of possession must go before the Settlement. Any new 

to the Civil Court, and, if successful, taluq would only be treated as sepa- 

the Settlement would be trans- rate if properly registered and ap- 

ferred to him. plied for under Regulation XXV of 

2 Harington mentions that about 1793, which provided for the par- 
three thousand taluqs were separated tition of Zamindari estates and the 
by him in the Zamindari of Rajshahi allotment of the jama on the divided 
alone. A summary inquiry was portions. If this was not done, 
made in every instance as directed, Government would take no notice of 
in the presence of the Zamindar's the taluq, if the estate were sold for 
raldl (law agent), and one appeal arrears. See also Fifth Report, vol. i. 
only is known to have been after- p 34. 


which were treated as entitled to separate Settlement, and 
their holders to be (equally with the greater Zamfndars) 
' actual proprietors.' 

12. Basis of the Assessment. 

The Settlement rules of 1789-93 laid down separate 
principles of assessment for Bengal, for Bihar, and for 
Orissa. In Bengal and Orissa the actual revenue of the 
preceding year, or some year nearly preceding (which was 
to be compared with the accounts, and tested by the in- 
formation which the Collector had acquired), was to furnish 
the standard of assessment. In Bihar, the standard was to 
be the average produce of land in any ordinary year, which 
would give a fair and equitable assessment. If any land 
had paid the same revenue for twelve years past, that was 
to be accepted as the Settlement rate. 

With the single exception, then, of Bihar, where in many 
cases former accounts were not forthcoming, and where 
consequently an estimate of the produce of an ordinary 
year had of necessity to be made, there was nothing required 
as the basis of assessment, but a reference to old accounts, 
with such adjustment and consolidation of separate items 
and abolition of objectionable ones, as the declared prin- 
ciples of the Government rendered necessary. 

I may repeat that, in order to determine the assessment 
of each estate, no inquiry was made (as under the later 
Settlement procedure) either what the value of the estate 
was, or what the produce was. or what the ' rents ' were as 
paid by the raiyats. Reference was simply made to the 
old records of the lump assessments under the native 
rulers ; and these were roughly adjusted in cases where 
such adjustment was needed, and the Zamindar or other 
owner was directed to pay this sum. 

The following description occurs in an article in the 
Calcutta Review by Mr. Thornton, reprinted in 1850: 

' The Collector sat in his office in the sudder (headquarter) 
station, attended by his right-hand man, the kaniingo, by 


whom he was almost entirely guided. As each estate came 
up in succession, the brief record of former Settlements was 
read, and the dehsunny (dah-san, ten years) book, or fiscal register 
for ten years immediately preceding the cession or conquest, 
was inspected. The kaniingo was then asked who was the 
Zammdar of the village. . . . Then followed the determination 
of the amount of revenue. On this point also, reliance was 
chiefly placed on the daul, or estimate, of the kamingo, checked 
by the accounts of past collections and by any other offers of 
mere farming speculators which might happen to be put 

Such an assessment must have been almost pure guess- 
work ; for, as the Fifth Report 1 says, 

' The lights formerly derivable from the Kamingo's office 
were no longer to be depended on : and a minute scrutiny into 
the value of lands by measurements and comparison of the 
village accounts, if sufficient for the purpose, was prohibited 
by orders from home.' 

The Report goes on to explain how Mr. James Grant's 
Analysis of the Finances raised expectations, and how 
Mr. Shore's Minute (June 18, 1789) removed many miscon- 
ceptions ; and it continues : 

' A medium of the actual produce to Government, in former 
years, drawn from the scanty information which the Collectors 
had the power of procuring, was the basis 011 which the assess- - 
ment of each estate, whether large or small, was ultimately 

By such a process, the assessment was not so likely to be 
fixed at an excessive rate, as the rights of individuals to 
share in the profits left by its moderation, were to be over- 

Scrutiny was, as I have said, prohibited, for fear of 
making the Zamindars distrust the promise of a Permanent 
Settlement, and think that the information supplied would 
be used to enhance the revenue afterwards. The evidence 
adduced by Dr. Field 2 proves that, even so far back as the 

1 Vol. i. p. 22. 2 Field, p. 469 note. 


time of Warren Hastings, the orders to collect information 
contemplated that it should be general ; there was not to be 
any ' vexatious ' extraction of details. The influence of this 
fear can still be clearly traced in Regulation VIII of 1800 
(Sees. 3 and 7) the first Regulation for compiling a formal 
register of revenue-paying and revenue-free estates (for the 
Collector's purposes). The Regulation explains how the 
information is to be acquired, and prohibits inquiry into> 
rents and measurements of individual 'malguzari' (revenue-* 
paying) lands. 

It is evident also from what Hastings wrote in 1776, that 
the revenue accounts exhibited by the kanungos were gene-, 
rally believed to be much better kept and more reliable than 
they really were. It was believed that we had only to go to 
the pargana abstracts (checking them, when necessary, by 
reference to the village rent-rolls) to get all possible in- 
formation. But, in fact, nothing about the real value of 
estates was found out ; only the attempt was made to dis- 
tinguish the revenue figures from the abwabs or cesses 
which had overlaid them 1 . 

13. Origin of the Revenue Accounts and Registers. 

Before we can understand the nature of the pargana and 
village accounts of revenue which existed, we must take 
a brief retrospect of what the native system had been in 

In a general chapter (V) we have already gained some 
knowledge of the Mughal system of administration, and also 
of the Settlements made under Akbar. It may therefore be 
at once stated that it was under Raja Todar Mai that the 
first Settlement of Bengal was made about 1582 A.D. The 
assessment was exclusive of Orissa, and some of the terri- 
tories in Eastern Bengal that were only added to the pro- 
vince at a later date. 

We have no evidence of any formal change in this assess- 

1 See Field, pp. 483-4. Whole sets of accounts were often fabricated 
to suit particular piirposes. 


ment till A.U. 1658, when Shuj'a Khan. Subadar of Bengal, 
revised it by raising the total from nearly 107 lakhs of 
rupees to about 131 lakhs. The next rise was under Ja'far 
Khan (surnamed Murshid Quli Khan). This revision i^ 
curious, because it exhibits one of those changes which are 
always observable in the Mughal kingdoms. An energetic 
ruler soon feels the loss to the treasury which contracts 
with Zamindars and others cause. They save trouble, 
but they intercept too much of the income. Ja'far 
Khan, therefore, put aside the Zamindars and collected 
by his own 'amils and officers 1 . About this time other 
countries in Orissa and Eastern Bengal were annexed, 
and came under assessment.. Shuj'a-ud-din, who succeeded, 
raised the assessment in 1728, to over 142 lakhs. But in 
his time (as indeed in his father's) the impost of abwabs 
or ' extras ' had begun. We then find the assessment con- 
tinually raised: the last assessment before cession to the 
British power, was Qasim 'Ali Khan's, which was said to 
be over 256 lakhs ; but there is some doubt whether this 
amount was ever realized 2 . It was calculated that the 
regular assessment had increased about 33 per cent., but 
that the increase of the Zamindars' exactions from the 
raiyats could not be less than 50 per cent. 

There can be no doubt that for many years of the later 
rule, assessments were habitually increased, not by a Settle- 
ment or any new land valuation, but by imposing cesses 
which were openly added to the payments required from 
the Zamindars or other collectors. The local kanungos 
doubtless long preserved the original or last regular land- 
assessment, spoken of as the 'tumar' or ''asl'; as well as 
the subsequent reassessments ; and they had also the 'taksim ' 
or division of the total sum over the villages. But the 
progress of events destroyed the practical use of such 

1 He employed Hindus always as whole history of tho assessment 

his Revenue officers. He divided is stated in Shore's Minute, 13 39 

the country into thirteen collector- and 63 (Fifth Report, i. p. 103, et 

ates called ' Chakla,' and the officers seq.). 

put in charge afterwards became 2 Minute, i8th June, 1789, 141. 
Zamindars in many instances. The 

VOL. I. r 6 


accounts. Warren Hastings, no doubt, was quite right 
when he wrote 

' Under the old Government, the distribution was annually 
corrected by the accounts which the Zamindars or other col- 
lectors of the revenue were bound to deliver into the office of 
the Jcdnungo or king's Register, of the increased or diminished 
rents of their lands and of the amount of their receipts : but 
the neglect of these institutions, the wars and revolutions 
which have since happened in Bengal, have totally changed 
the face of the country, and rendered the tutndr rent-roll a 
mere object of curiosity. The land-tax has therefore been 
collected for these twenty years past (i.e. since 1756) upon 
a conjectural valuation of the land formed ty the amount of 
receipts of former years, and the opinions [estimate or l daul'] of 
officers of the revenue ; and the assessment has accordingly been 
altered almost every year/ 

This account is also borne out by the Fifth Report 1 . 

Hence in the decennial Settlement, as Mr. Thornton de- 
scribed, the estimates were really based on the payments 
made by Zamindars in past years, increased or diminished 
according to the opinions of such local experts as were at 

It will appear hereafter how very uncertain were the 
raiyats' payments, owing to this system. The idea that 
the whole body of raiyats had any guarantee under native 
rule for payment at fixed rates for ever, or that the 
law, when the Permanent Settlement was made, could have 
easily denned such rates and made them permanent too, is 
quite untenable. The custom varied from place to place 
and pargana to pargana, according to the character and 
influence of the revenue-collectors. 

I do not say that it would not have been impossible to 
ascertain the traditional ' tiimar ' rates of Akbar's, or some 
other later Settlement, but would those rates have been 
reasonable at the close of the century "? 2 Had the task been 

1 Vol. i. p. 19, at the bottom. dealings with the raiyats at p. 171. 

2 Mr. Phillips gives a perfectly For whatever the Zamindars' sanads 
accurate account of the Zamindars' required, the raiyats were annually 


seriously undertaken, it would have been necessary, as 
was found in the Central Provinces, to fix the raiyats 
rates on the basis of local inquiry by a Settlement officer 
after a survey and registration of fields ; and such a pro- 
ceeding no one could have dreamt of in ] 790. 

14. The Siwdi or Abwdb. 

This is the place to introduce a description of the 
additions by which the native Governments were accus- 
tomed to raise the demand from the Zamindars. The cesse* 
were called ' siwai ' (lit. 'extra,' 'besides') or 'abwab' (plural 
of 'bab,' the heads or subjects of taxation 1 ). Sometimes the 
Arabic term hubub (plural of hab) is used. The common 
Hindi or Bengali name is ' mathaut.' They were calculated 
on the same principle as the jama', at so much per bigha, 
or so many seers in the maund of grain. The ruler's local 
deputy levied them on the Zamindar, who was authorized 
to levy them on the cultivators. When such extras got 
numerous and complicated, there would be a sort of com- 
promise ; the account would be re-adjusted so as to con- 
solidate the old rate and the cesses in one ; and this would 
become the recognized rate, till new cesses being imposed. 
a new compromise was effected 2 . In this way, therefore. 

settled with (Land Tenure by a or after the nature of the tax. Thus 
Civilian, 1832, pp. 65, 66). There we find the fir^t cess imposed by 
were lists kept by the patwaris Ja'far Khan called ' khasnavisi, a 
and kanungos, of village and par- tax to support the Government 
gana rates, called ' raibandi ' or writers of ' sanads,' &c. ; ' naza- 
' nirkh.' But then the abwab or rana muqarrari,' a rate to enable 
cesses were added, and from time the Deputy or Governor to send his 
to time consolidated with the customary annual present to the 
original rates See also p. 178, Emperor ; the 'faujdari, to main- 
where Mr. Justice Campbell, de- tain police ; zar-i-mathaut,' coin- 
scribing the system of additions, is prising several items ; ' chauth- 
quoted. On the subject of the Maratha,' a tax to meet the loss 
practical existence of I he old Ak- caused by the cession of part of 
barian assessment, I may refer to Orissa to the Marathas, &c., &c. 
the undeniable authority of Mr. An elaborate account of cesses will 
Shore's Minute quoted in the Fifth be found in Phillips, p. 176 et seq. 
Report, vol. i. p. 139 (Minute, 218"). 2 See Mr. Justice (Sir G.) Camp- 
' The assal jumma established by bells judgment in the great Rent 
him does not now anywhere exist.' Case, B. L. Reports, Supplementary 

1 They were called after the volume, p. 256. 
name of the ruler inventing them, 

E e 2 


the revenue would periodically rise, and the rates exacted 
from the cultivators rise also, with more than corre- 
sponding frequency. The revenue actually realized was 
thus composed of the ' 'asl jama ' plus these extra charges 
(siwai), and was collectively called the ' mal.' . 

The Zamindars naturally enough, not only raised the 
rents of the raiyats to a sum sufficient to cover the whole 
assessment, but imitated the example by levying private 
cesses for their own benefit, in addition to the ' mal.' 

15. The Sdyer. 

Besides the land-revenue there were other imposts only 
indirectly connected with the land, and called ' Sair,' or, 
according to the Bengali writing, 'Sayer.' These weie 
taxes on pilgrims, excise, transit and customs duties, taxes 
levied on shopkeepers in bazaars (ganj) and markets (hat), 
tolls, &c. They amounted usually to about one-tenth of 
the land-revenue ; they also included charges on the use 
of the products of the jungle (ban-kar), on fishing (jal- 
kar, produce of water), and on orchards and fruit-trees 
(pkal-kar 1 .) 

It is easy to understand, then, that the total revenue which 
each Zamindar had to account for to the State consisted 
of two kinds, the ' mal ' (above described) and the ' sair.' 

The sum under each head payable in total for the 
different ' mahals ' or estates included in the Zamindari, 
was placed on record, and noted also on the sanad of 

1 The Fifth Report (vol. i. p. 26) duce above mentioned. I may here 

describes the Sdyer as consisting in mention that (as regards the mistake 

' land customs, duties and taxes, of mahal for mal in the extract) 

and whatever teas collected on the part that the report i the original as well 

of the Government and not included as the reprint which exactly follows 

in the "Mehaul" (meaning " mal" it) is full of mistakes or misprints 

or land-revenue. )' But the Sayer of native terms. Many of them are 

also included the charges on pro- quite unrecognizable. 


1 6. Disposal of these items at Settlement. 

The British Government abolished all extra cesses or 
' abwab ' as they existed when its rule began ; and 
naturally it required the Zamindars, under penalty, to 
abstain from levying such cesses from the raiyats. 

As to the sdyer dues, those which were in the nature of 
separate taxes excise, and the like the Government took 
into its own hands, severing them entirely from the 
land-revenue account. Others, which were oppressive, as 
transit duties, taxes on pilgrims and the like, it gradually 
abolished. Such dues of this class as represented payment 
for the use of produce of land or water, the Government 
handed over to the landowners to augment their legitimate 

The good intentions of the Government as to freeing the 
raiyats from liability to vexatious cesses imposed by the 
Zamindars for their own benefit, were never carried out, at 
least fully. Even at the present day such cesses are paid 
by the raiyats, partly under the inexorable bond of custom, 
and partly from a sense of helplessness. For though the 
authorities would at once decide against the exaction, still 
the Zamindar could always either conceal the fact or colour 
it in some way, or else make things so unpleasant for the 
raiyat, that he would rather pay and hold his tongue 1 . 

1 The private cesses, as distinct Those who care to go into more 

from the authorized cesses of old detail will also find, following the 

days, were legion. A few names extract I make, a list of cesses, 

will sufficiently indicate their showing the variety and ingenuity 

nature ; thus, we find the ' man- which their levy displayed, 

gan,' a benevolence to assist the ' The modern Zamindar taxes his 

Zamindar in debt ; ' najai,' a con- raiyats for every extravagance or 

tribution to cover the loss when necessity that circumstances may 

some of the cultivators absconded suggest, as his predecessors taxed 

or defaulted ; ' porvani ' or ' par- them in the past. He will tax 

bani,' a charge to enable the Zamin- them for the support of his agents 

dar to celebrate ' parva,' or religious of various kinds and degrees, for 

festival days. There were also the payment of his income-tax and 

levies for embankments (piilbandi), his postal cess, for the purchase of 

for travelling expenses of the Zamin- an elephant for his own use, for 

dar, &c., &c. As regards the the cost of the stationery of 

modern levy of cesses, I cannot do his establishment, for the cost of 

better than quote from the Ad- printing the forms of his rent 

ministration Report of 1872-73. receipts, for the payment of his 



The Regulation XXVII of 1793 gi yes a somewhat de- 
tailed account of the abolished adyer duties 1 . It refers to 
the Ayin-i-Aklari (vol. i. p. 359), as showing that Akbar 
had rescinded some, and that 'Alamgir (Aurangzeb), ' the 
last Emperor who maintained the full authority of the 
Mussulman government,' abolished seventy others. The 
abolition of all transit duties and marriage taxes, having 
been at an early time of the Company's administration 
enjoined (viz. in 1772), was to be maintained. But so 
anxious were the Government not to injure the Zamindars, 

lawyers. The milkman gives his 
milk, the oilman his oil, the weaver 
his clothes, the confectioner his 
sweetmeats, the fisherman his fish. 
The Zamindar levies benevolences 
from his raiyats for a festival, for a 
religious ceremony, for a birth, for 
a marriage ; he exacts fees from 
them on all changes of their hold- 
ings, on the exchange of leases and 
agreements, and on all transfers 
and sales ; he imposes a fine on 
them when he settles their petty 
disputes, and when the police or 
when the magistrate visits his 
estates ; he levies black-mail on 
them when social scandals trans- 
pire, or when an offence or an affray 
is committed. He establishes his 
private pound near his cutcherry, 
and realizes a fine for every head 
of cattle that is caught trespassing 
on the raiyats' crops. The abwab, 
as these illegal cesses are called, 
pervade the whole zamindari sys- 
tem In every zamindari there is 
a naib ; under the naib there are 
gumashtas ; under the gumashta 
there are piyadas or peons. The 
naib exacts a ' hisabana ' or perqui- 
site for adjusting accounts annually. 
The naibs and gumashtas take their 
share in the regular abwab ; they 
have also their own little abwab. 
The naib occasionally indulges in 
an ominous raid in the ' mofu.ssil ' 
the plain country away from the 
town or headquarters'). One rupee 
is exacted from every raiyat who 
has a rental, as he comes to proffer 
his respects. Collecting peons, when 
they are sent to summon raiyats to 

the landholder's cutcherry. exact 
from them daily four or five annas 
as summon fees.' (P. 23, Body of the 

On the other hand, it should not 
be forgotten that all this need only 
continue as long as the people them- 
selves choose ; but in fact it is the 
ingrained custom and is submitted 
to as long as it is kept within 
customary limits. Every petty 
native official is born to think that 
' wasila ' (pickings and perquisites ) 
are as much a part of his natural 
rights as air to breathe or water to 
drink. Nor will the public seriously 
object as long as he does his duty 
fairly. When he tries to take too 
much and does ' zulm ' (petty 
tyranny), the people will turn on 
him, and a conviction for extortion 
is more or less attainable, according 
as the culprit still has friends or is 
generally in the black books. 

There is also a bright side to the 
question : an amicable understand- 
ing with a raiyat for some cesses 
will often obviate a good deal of 
litigation about rent enhancement. 
This was the case in Orissa. In 
Macneile's Memorandum on the Revenue 
Administration (1873), an interesting 
notice of the subject will be found. 
The people complained of certain 
cesses, and the Zamindar imme- 
diately responded by bringing suits 
under the Rent Act for enhance- 
ment, and by measuring their lands 
(see p. 408 "i. 

1 See Markby. Appendix, pp. 
144-148, and authorities quoted. 


that where the remission of sdyer caused a real loss (by 
taking away from them the tolls on roads and ferries, or 
the taxes on bazaars and markets established on their lands), 
they were compensated. 

17. Other Alloivances. 

There were other charges and allowances to be taken 
into account in the process of consolidating the Zammdars' 
revenue liabilities into one sum. Allowances which had 
been made to the Zamindar, for expenses of collection, 
office charges, and the like, were of course duly considered and 
deducted in making up the totals, where the expense would 
continue to fall on the Zamindar. Other payments which 
he formerly had to make and received allowance for, were 
now made by the State direct, so that no deduction had 
to be made on account of them. Thus the payment of 
pensions and allowances to Muhammadan law-officers called 
Qazis, other pensions, and the salaries of Kdnungos, were 
now to be paid direct by the treasury, and the Zamindai 1 
was not concerned. 

Nor under the revised arrangements, was it necessary to 
make the Zamindar any allowance of land free of revenue 
as remuneration of office he had now become proprietor 
of all, and his remuneration was amply secured in other 
ways. Such lands as were formerly held as nankar, or by 
other similar name, were not excluded from assessment *. 

1 8. Resumption of Invalid Revenue-free Holdings. 

When the calculation of the assessment on each estate 
was, so far, provided for, there was still another important 
and very troublesome matter to be disposed of. If in any 
Zamindari, a large portion of the land was held ' revenue- 
free ' by landholders on the estate, owing to royal favour 

1 But if the Zamindar refused to show a good title (Reg. VIII. 1793, 
engage, he would continue to hold sees. 37-39)- 
such land revenue free, if he could 


and grant, it is obvious that the Zamindar could not be 
called on to make good the revenue to the treasury. But 
in some cases the Zamindar himself had made such grants, 
and then he had to make good the State claims as a matter 
of course ; the grant he made operated against himself, 
not against the State. 

It was however known that in the disordered state of 
the late Government, a great number of claims to hold 
revenue-free were really invalid, and so the land was liable 
to be assessed, or as it is technically called, 'resumed.' 
This subject demands a somewhat fuller notice. It may 
now seem a matter of dry detail, but at the time it affected 
the livelihood of many hundreds, or indeed thousands, and 
involved a vast amount of Government revenue. 

When a Government is strong, it is very careful about 
titles assigning the revenue of lands away from the treasury, 
and about granting lands to be held revenue-free. It was 
no doubt reckoned a pious duty to make such grants for 
mosques, temples, schools, dharnasalas (or rest-houses), or to 
the families of reputed saints or men of eminent piety and 
learning. But it is also an easy thing, when the treasury- 
is empty through waste and corruption, to assign revenue- 
free lands to favourites or to persons to be rewarded, who 
ought properly to have received cash pensions or life- 
grants. In short, though there is a legitimate use of 
revenue-free grants which the oriental mind approves, still 
it is easy to abuse the institution and to forget that in all 
cases they mean freeing one set of persons from taxation at 
the expense of others who have, in the end, to make up the 
loss. In the decline of the Mughal empire, not only were 
such grants multiplied, but a great many of them were 
made by subordinate officials who had no real authority : 
not only so, but a considerable number of grants were held 
under no authority at all, or were supported by forged 

It was therefore necessary in the proclamation of 1793, to 
announce that a scrutiny of revenue-free claims would be 
made. ' The Governor-General in Council will impose such 


assessment as he may deem equitable, on all lands at present 
alienated 1 and paying no public revenue, which have been, 
or may prove to be, held under illegal or invalid titles.' The 
grants are spoken of as ' lakhiraj ' grants ; and the lands were 
' lakhiraj ' lands. The name is derived from two Arabic 
words, 'la,' the negative, and 'khiiaj,' revenue or land-tax. 
These grants had been either made by royal authority 
(badshahi), in which case they were dealt with under Regu- 
lation XXXVII of 1793, or 'hukami' (incorrectly hukmi), 
i. e. made by authorities other than the king, called in the 
Regulations ' non-badshahi,' and these are dealt with in 
Regulation XIX of 1793. It was the latter class that were 
the most likely to be doubtful in origin ; properly speaking, 
they were all invalid. The Regulation recites that if a 
Zamindar had made such a grant (in past days) it was 
considered void. On the subject of grants assumed to be 
made by ' officers appointed to the temporary superintend- 
ence of the collection of the revenue, under pretext that 
the land was for pious or charitable uses/ some were no 
doubt bond fide ; but, says the preamble, ' in general, they 
were given for the personal advantage of the grantee, or 
with a view to the clandestine appropriation of the produce 
to the grantor,' or were given for a money consideration to 
him. Government settled the Zamindar' s estate jama' 
without reference to such grants and exclusive of them. 
Consequently it was at liberty to 'resume,' i.e. to impose 
an assessment on, all that were invalid. In determining 
to do this, Government generously enough said that if the 
grant was less than 100 bighds in extent, the assessment 
would not be for the benefit of Government but for the estate 
would be in fact claimable as rent. It is said that both 
these Regulations failed, as might be expected in the 

1 This phrase ' alienated ' is com- in that case ' alienation ' would 

moner in Bombay and Madras than be used in an ordinary sense. But 

elsewhere ; it refers rather to the where the land did not belong to 

alienation of the revenue from the Government, ' alienation ' referred 

treasury than to the land itself. to giving up the revenue demand, 

Of course Government might have and the consequent lien or ultimate 

land at disposal, and grant both it title, which Government has over, 

and the revenue due on it ; and or to, all land whatsoever. 


absence of a survey and any sufficient land records ; for I 
suppose that by ' failing ' it is meant that the claims did 
not come to light. The law was accordingly revised by 
Regulation II of 1819, and again by Regulation III of 
1 828. This latter enactment appointed a Court of ' Special 
Commissioners ' ; and after they had done what they could 
for many years, they were abolished by order of Govern- 
ment in 1846. The more modern procedure of Registration 
and Certificate, which will be described in the sequel, have 
at length done everything that is wanted. 

The Zamindars who were thus empowered to ' resume ' 
all the petty estates for their own benefit, were long loath 
to do so. No doubt where the ' mu'afi ' was for a pious 
purpose, it would have been contrary to the public feeling 
to resume ; but if many were created, as asserted, either as 
a means of raising money or otherwise irregularly, it is not 
so easy to see why they should have been tenderly dealt 
with ; at a later date, when the Zamindaris changed hands, 
successors were not so particular, and resumption suits 
became common *. 

19. Principles of Resumption. 

In order to simplify matters, all grants made previous 
to the i2th August, 1765 (date of grant of the diwdni), 

1 See this explained in Markby, sequently, everybody asserting a 

p. 7. I take occasion to observe grant or claim not to pay, is surely 

that I do not quite follow the learned most naturally the person who has 

author in his remark that the to take the burden of proof and 

Regulations gave an extraordinary produce his exemption. It may be 

facility to the estate-holder to re- that he has no grant, but has been 

sume, or that they laid the burden allowed to go free so long, that now 

of proof on the persons claiming to it would be hard to charge him ; 

hold free in a manner contrary to but that is a matter of the nature 

the usual rule ; but perhaps the of his title ; it is beside the question 

remark is due to the confusion, of who should take the burden of 

which undoubtedly is traceable in proof in the first instance. On the 

the law, between assessing revenue other hand, if it was a question of 

or rent fas the case might bet and ejecting from the land, then the 

ejecting the claimant from the land. burden is, of course, the other way. 

As far as the claim to rent is con- The man in possession on an appa- 

cerned, the rent was only what rent title is to remain until some 

had before been the State revenue one else proves his superior title or 

demand ; every acre of cultivated proves that the other has no busi- 

land is bound to pay this ; con- ness there. 


were recognized as valid without question, by whatever 
authority they might have been made, and whether in 
writing or without it: the only condition was, that the 
claimant (or his predecessor) should have actually, and 
bond fide, obtained possession of the land so granted pre- 
vious to the date mentioned, and that the land had not 
already been declared liable to pay revenue by the officers, 
or under the orders, of Government. 

Grants subsequent to 1765, and before the date of the 
decennial Settlement (taken as December ist, I79O 1 ), were 
invalid (with a few unimportant exceptions). So also were 
grants after December 1790. 

The provisions of both Regulations refer only to the 
revenue question, not to the right in the soil, which, if 
disputed, could be settled in the Civil Court. 

20. Terms of Settlement for such Lands. 

When a grant lapsed to Government or was resumed, 
the Settlement was to be made, in perpetuity, with the 
person entitled to hold the land, which became an in- 
dependent ' taluq ' a separate proprietary estate. 

In the case of grants made between 1765 and ist Decem- 
ber, 1790, Section 7 of Regulation XIX of 1793 contem- 
plated certain differences as to amount of assessment, 
which are rather complicated ; and it is now of no impor- 
tance to go into them. These rules applied also (Section 8) 
to grants resumed in favour of Zamindars, but with certain 
directions as to ascertaining the revenue without expense 
to the grantee. 

The Government seems to have been more anxious to 
facilitate the resumption by the landholders of the invalid 
lakhiiaj grants of less than 100 bighas, than it was to 
secure to the State the larger invalid grants. Section 10 
invalidated all grants since December 1790; so that if the 
Zamindar himself, or a predecessor, had made the grant, he 

1 1198 Fasli era of Bengal (see Book I, chap. i. p. 13). 


could undo his own act l . The grant was invalid as regards 
the revenue (become the rent), and as regards the soil also, 
if it purported to include the latter: 'and no length of 
possession shall be hereafter considered to give validity to 
any such grant.' 

21. Procedure. Limitation. 

The Settlement-holder (or manager, should the estate 
happen to be held 'Mas') was empowered to levy rent 
(or to eject an unentitled holder of the land) without any 
action in Court or notice to any Revenue Officer ; but this 
applied only to invalid grants dating after 1790. In order 
to assess, or to eject from a grant previous to 1790, a 
regular suit was at first required (Section n). 

Section 30 of Regulation II of 1819 endeavoured to 
facilitate resumptions of grants previous to 1790, by saying 
that the application to resume might be presented direct to 
the Collector, or if presented to a Civil Court, should be 
referred to the Collector for an opinion ; but this was found 
inconvenient and was repealed in 1862 (Bengal Act VII). 

It should be remarked that the landholders at no time 
largely availed themselves of the summary power given in 
Section 10 of Regulation XIX of 1793, but preferred to 
resort to the Civil Court even when the practice of resump- 
tion became more general 2 . In consequence, Section 30 
of Regulation II 'of 1819 was frequently misapplied: it 
was not intended to apply to cases under Section 10 of 
Regulation XIX (regarding which no suit at all was needed, 
and therefore if one was filed it was the landholder's own 
pleasure) ; it was designed to facilitate inquiry as to grants 
before 1790, for which a suit VMS needed ; but it got applied 

1 The motive for this was the his renf), and so contract himself out 

principle which is not unknown of the power of meeting his own 

in other revenue laws that the revenue engagements to the Go vern- 

revenue-payer ought not to be ment. 

allowed (or encouraged) impru- 2 See Markby, p. 8, and the cases 

dently to give away his lands free there quoted, 
of the revenue (which now became 


to both, till the Privy Council ruled that it could not legally 
be so. 

The power given under Section 10, above referred to, 
was, however, taken away by Act X of 1859, and the land- 
holder was required to file his suit, which, however, lay to 
the Collector as a Revenue Court : and when this Act was 
repealed by Act VIII of 1869, the reference was re-trans- 
ferred to the Civil Court, as in all other matters. 

It was also ultimately ruled by the Privy Council, that 
notwithstanding the terms above quoted, the Government 
right to resume was subject to the law of limitation, and 
that, by parity of reasoning, so was the Zamindar's 1 . The 
modern limitation law (1877. Act XV) sets the question 
at rest, since Article 130 of Schedule II expressly gives 
twelve years as the limit for a private resumption suit ; 
and all suits by the Secretary of State are limited to sixty 

22. ' Tkdnaddri Lands.' 

Among other ' resumptions ' it may be proper to mention 
that the Zamindars were relieved from the responsibility of 
maintaining police forces, and so lands held free under the 
name of ' thanadari,' to provide for them, were resumed and 
assessed. The ' chakaran ' lands held for village service 


i.e. for village watchmen or ' chaukidars ' and ' bulahirs ' p^t \q ri 
are not included in this. of J 793- 

23. The Waste Lands. 

Although we gather, from the early reports and his- 
tories, that, at the date of the Permanent Settlement, a very 
large proportion of Bengal was uncultivated and covered 
with jungle, the matter attracted no definite attention. 

1 This was because, in the limit- to authorize a suit barred by the 

ation law then in force (^Regulation various periods prescribed ; so that 

II of 18051, it was provided that the terms quoted above, out of 

'nothing ... in any part of the Section 10, Regulation XIX of 1793, 

existing Regulations ' should be held were over-ridden. 


Perhaps it was less prominent in the central districts that 
formed the important revenue-paying tracts. 

At all events, it was assumed that the boundaries of 
Zamindaris or other estates were known. And all that was 
within the boundary belonged to the proprietor, whether 
waste or cultivated ; so that many fine ' sal ' forests and 
other such lands have become included as private property, 
though, in the absence of any detailed survey or register 
of fields, it was quite impossible, in most cases, for any 
one to tell whether the waste was really part of the ' estate ' 
or not. 

That some waste was so, goes without saying ; for the 
extension of the Zamindar's income, by bringing under the 
plough lands that were uncultivated, was one of the means 
most frequently spoken of, by which his wealth was to be 

I do not find any mention of ' excess waste lands ' (i. e. 

not included in any one's estate) till Regulation II of 1819. 

Even then nothing is said about the want of title of 

persons who had squatted or occupied ; only it is said such 

Rg. II of lands were liable to be assessed to revenue. The Regula- 

1819860.3. j on re f erre( j especially, as instances of such lands, to 

() lands cultivated in the Sundarbans 1 (these were 
chiefly on the higher parts of the delta better 
protected from inundation, and probably exten- 
sions or encroachments from the permanently 
cultivated estates inland) ; 

(&) ' chars ' and islands formed in rivers ; and other 

alluvial accretions since the decennial Settlement ; 

(c) lands which did not come under the Settlement 

specially let out on clearing leases by Collectors. 

The assessment was to be on the 'principles of the 

General Regulations,' and therefore permanent (see Section 

6 of Regulation I of 1793). 

1 Avast tract of forest intersected 24-Pergunnahs, Khulna and Bakir- 

by myriads of tidal streams and ganj, between the main mouth of 

creeks, and forming the southern the Hughli on the west and the 

or delta portion of the districts of Megna river on the east 


The matter was better provided for at a later time. 
Regulation III of 1828 recites in the preamble that 

* Commissioners have likewise, from time to time, been ap- 
pointed, under the orders of Government, to maintain and 
enforce the public rights in different districts, in which exten- 
sive tracts of country, unowned and unoccupied at the time of 
the Permanent Settlement, are now liable to assessment, or, 
'being still tvaste, belong to the State.' 

This is the first legislative declaration I have found on 
the subject of the title to waste lands (see Chap. V, p. 236). 
And while it also follows from this that all lands ' owned ' 
and occupied were liable to be assessed (and that per- 
manently), no others could claim a Permanent assessment. 
In other words, the benefit of the Regulations extended to 
estates then occupied, even without title, not to all that might 
thereafter be created by new occupation and cultivation. 

We shall have occasion to notice how waste lands were 
disposed of in several instances in the sequel. Here it is 
sufficient to notice what the Settlement Regulations in- 
tended on the subject. 

24. Resume of the Zaminddrs Position under 
the Permanent Settlement. 

The result of these various provisions may now be 

(a) The Zamindar was only required to pay one sum, 

with no extra cesses on the land. 

(6) The 'abicdb' were abolished; and he was not allowed, 
in his turn, to levy such charges on his raiyats. 

(c) The ' Sayer ' were not charged in the revenue : 

some items were left to benefit the estate, others 
were abolished, and others (excise, road-tolls, &c.) 
were taken out of the land-revenue account 
altogether and separately collected by the Govern- 

(d) The Zamindar was not allowed to have any deduc- 


tions from his sum total on the plea of private 
lands revenue-free as ' nankar ' or subsistence 

(e) Nor to claim deductions on the ground of grants of 
land revenue-free made by the former Government 
or by its officers, unless these were valid on the 
terms prescribed by law. All others were 're- 
sumed' and assessed. This did not affect the 
Zamindars if the 'resumed' grant was over 100 
bighas, because such were treated as separate 
estates and assessed. But, as regards smaller 
grants, the Zamindar got the benefit of the re- 
sumption, and it was left to him to resume or 
not, under the prescribed procedure, as he chose. 

(/) The Zamindar was not allowed deductions for 
pensions, pay of Qdzis, or of Kdnungos, or for 
police lands because the State no longer required 
him to meet any such charges. 

25. Profit left to Zaminddr. 

The Settlement thus made with the Zamindars for one 
consolidated lump sum of revenue, was supposed, in theory, 
to represent nine-tenths of what they received directly in 
rent from the raiyats, the remaining tenth being allowed 
to them for their trouble and responsibility 1 . In reality, 

1 See Regulation VIII of 1793, the peons or messengers, to keep 

Section 77 ; and Whinfield's Revenue up the office, &c., &c. 

Law and Practice of Bengal 1,1874', If anything is wanting to show 

p. n. That was also the theory how utterly unlike a ' landlord ' th3 

under the native rule. The Zamin- Zamindar originally was, this will 

dars were to pay in the whole of supply the want. He got nothing in 

their collections, less only a per- the nature of rent from the land. The 

centage allowed them for the raiyat took the balance of its yield 

trouble (called mushahara\ together after paying the Government share 

with some allowances (called ' maz- (the balance to him being often 

kiirat'), for charitable and re- small enough), and the Zamindar 

ligious purposes to keep lamps at had to account to Government for 

the tombs of saints, to preserve the the whole of his collections, getting 

' qadam rasul ' or foot-prints of the back only such allowance as the 

Prophet, to give khairat or alms to State made him to keep up his 

the poor, to pay the village or office, &c., and to remunerate him 

minor revenue officials to support for his trouble. Whatever he made 


the Zamindar, when made landlord, got all the increase of 
rents (as the raising of rents gradually came to be under- 
stood), and, in any case, he got the benefit of all extension 
of cultivation, as well as all the ' sayer ' items from 
fisheries, fruit, grazing, &c., and the benefit of all invalid 
grants (under 100 bighas) which he chose to resume. And 
with all these sources of income, it very soon came to pass 
that the revenue payment was nothing at all resembling 
nine-tenths of the total receipts from the estate. 

26. Settlement Arrangements regarding the Zaminddrs' 
dealings with the Raiyats. 

The Settlement procedure certainly involved very little 
action with reference to the raiyats, the great body of 
agriculturists, now reduced to a secondary position under 
the Zamindars. The Regulations may be said to have 
hoped much and provided little. What they did, however, 
though it might, in some respects, be conveniently noticed 
here, had better be passed over, for the reason that I must 
recur to the subject (of landlord and tenant) at a later 
stage, and it is an object to avoid repetition. I will there- 
fore simply reserve the provisions of the Regulation regard- 
ing raiyats or tenants to a subsequent chapter. 

27. Registration of Landed Estates. 

It will next be asked, what attempt was made to prepare 
registers of estates and records of other rights under the 
Permanent Settlement ? 

As there was no survey or demarcation of estates, the 
only thing that could be done was to prepare a descriptive 
register, showing the names of estates and the villages, and 
local subdivisions of land included in it. Regulation 

for himself was derived from rulers contracted with the Zamin- 

revenue-free land, that held as dar for a fixed sum, this soon came 

' nankar,' or from the levy of un- to be regarded as something apart 

authorized cesses. In time, it is from the total rents paid in by the 

true, he came to get something very raiyats. 
like rent. When the later Native 

VOL. I. F f 


XLVIII of 1 793 contemplated a general register of estates 
paying revenue immediately to Government. Each estate 
was to be described by name, and it was to be mentioned 
whether it consisted of a village, a tappa (group of villages), 
or a pargana ; whether it was a jdgir grant, or a taluq, or 
any other special form of grant (of which we shall hear 
when we come to the chapter on Tenures). If the estate 
had been partitioned, the shares were to be specified. And 
should portions of estates lie in different districts, the term 
' qismat ' (section or fragment), was to be prefixed. 

The registers were also supposed to show the local name 
and the (nominal) area of each village and pargana, with 
the names of the landlord, farmer of rent, &c. 

The registers were to be renewed every five years ; and a 
register noting intermediate changes in the proprietorship, 
partitions and other like occurrences affecting the estates, 
was to be kept up. 

To facilitate this work, the Civil Courts were to send 
copies of all decrees which affected land, and the Board of 
Revenue were to notify sales made under the Revenue Re- 
covery laws. Registrars of deeds were also to send notices, 
and proprietors were to give due information of transfers of 
property, failing which they became liable to penalty. 

Separate registers were kept up of revenue-free estates, 
and of those which, being invalid, were resumed and assessed 
to revenue. 

These rules were first revised by Regulation VIII of 
1 800, which mentions the failure J which had occurred, and 

1 I do not mean, by the failure tenures. But the task was a diffi- 

of the early records, to imply that cult one : there was delay in carrying 

the authors of the Settlement pur- it out. English ideas of the rights 

posely neglected the work. On the of a landlord and of the advantage 

contrary, ' The original intention,' of non-interference, began more 

says Sir G. Campbell, 'of the framers and more to prevail in Bengal, 

of the Permanent Settlement, was The Executive more and more ab- 

to record all rights. The kanungos negated the functions of recording 

and patwaris were to register all rights and protecting the inferior 

holdings, all transfers, all rent- holders, and left everything to the 

rolls, and all receipts and pay- judicial tribunals. The patwaris 

ments ; and every five years there fell into disuse, or became the mere 

was to be filed in the public offices servants of the Zamindars : the 

a complete register of all land- kanungos were abolished. No record 


directed, among other changes, that the registers should be 
kept by parganas. There is no occasion to go into detail, 
as the rules have long since been repealed. They never 
were, or could have been, fully carried out, so impossible is 
it to manage Records of rights without a survey. 

28. Registration of Under-tenures. 

But no registration of under-tenures, or record of the 
nature and extent of the rights of cultivators and lessees 
subordinate to the landlords, was made. And this was a 
serious want, because after all the ' taluq ' grantees and 
others had been 'separated' (and so recorded as estate- 
holders on their own account), there must have remained a 
large number of 'dependent' taluqs, 'muqarrari ' and ' istim- 
rari' lessees, and others (of whom we shall afterwards hear), 
whose rights were certainly above those of tenants, and 
ought therefore to have been recorded. The Settlement 
Regulations, however, though by no means ignoring such 
rights, or wishing to destroy them, thought it enough to 
assume that there were fixed terms of the grant by which 
the tenure originated, and to declare these binding. The 
want of proper authoritative registers of such tenures and 
their holders long continued ; and it is only of late years 
that the registration has been put on a better footing. A 
notice of the present practice, however, belongs to a later 
stage of our study. 

29. The means of recovering the Revenue. Sale-laws. 

I have already alluded to the first indication of the SALE 
LAWS. The Government had dealt liberally with the 
Zamindars; it had given them a valuable property, and 
secured them by a permanent limit to the State revenue 
demand. It was, therefore, thought only fair that, in 

of the rights of the raiyats and tained for a time, fell into disuse.' 

inferior holders was ever made ; (Sir G. Campbell's Land System of 

and even the quinquennial register India Cobden Club Papers, p. 148). 
of superior rights, which was main- 

F f 2 


return, the State revenue should be paid with the unfail- 
ing punctuality required to meet the pressing needs of the 
treasury ; and it was held, without question, that if the 
landlord did not or could not, pay, he must be removed 
at once, by the sale of the whole or a part of the estate, as 
circumstances should indicate. In those early days, the 
Revenue instalments were payable monthly; and it was 
held that failure to pay any month's due justified an 
immediate sale 1 . But in 1799 the rule was relaxed. Regu- 
lation VII provided that no sale should take place till the 
end of the year, and thus give more time. And, as the 
landlord was dependent on the recovery of his rents for 
his ability to pay, a summary power of distraint for rent 
was given him. The sanction of the Board of Revenue was 
also required before a sale was ordered ; and only such part 
of the estate as would suffice was actually sold. Interest 
was not charged on arrears ; and this is still the law. 

The law of summary distraint was oppressive to the 
raiyats, but we are not concerned with that here, but only 
with the law for recovery of arrears of revenue and its 
effect on the system. As the revenue got lighter and 
lighter, and the landlords had more and more power 
against the rent-payers, it is hardly to be wondered at that 
the provisions against revenue default should have been 
made more stringent. The next Regulation of importance 
was Regulation XI of 1822, which made it no longer neces- 
sary to issue process of attachment or try any arrangement 
for direct collection, before putting up the estate (or part 
of it) to sale. 

This law lasted till 1841, when Act XII replaced it ; this 
in its turn was repealed in 1 845 ; and Act XI of 1 859 began 
what I may call the ' modern sale law ' to which reference 
will be made in the chapter headed ' Revenue Business and 

1 Kaye, p. 185. As a matter of sale of his property. Regulation III 

fact, the first Regulation, XV of of 1794 abolished the imprisonment 

1793, prescribed the ordinary pro- of the defaulting proprietor, and 

cess against debtors, viz. the im- substituted a power of immediate 

prisonment of the person, and the sale of his estate. 


30. Voiding of existing encumbrances ivhen the 
Estate was sold. 

One feature of the sale law, which was early allowed 
to be necessary, deserves to be mentioned. Besides the 
under-tenures, which existed in the shape of dependent 
taluqs and other privileged holdings, it became the custom 
with the landlords to divest themselves of the trouble of 
management, by farming out portions of their estate. 
The detail of this will appear later on, but it is obvious 
that the result was to create, on most estates, numerous 
under-tenures. All these were so many encumbrances 
on the estate ; and if, when the landlord's interest was 
sold for arrears, all these remained valid, the net interest 
saleable would, in all probability, not fetch enough at 
auction to realize the arrear. As early as Regulation Reg. XLiv 
XLIV of 1793, we fi n d that when an estate is auctioned for 

' all engagements which such proprietor shall have contracted 
with dependent taluqdars whose taluqs may be situated in the 
lands sold; as also all leases to under- farmers, and pattds to 
raiyats [with certain exceptions] .... shall stand cancelled from 
the day of sale, and the purchaser .... shall be at liberty to 
collect from such dependent taluqdars, &c., whatever the former 
proprietor would have been entitled to demand, according to 
the established usages and rates of the pargana, &c., had the 
engagements so cancelled never existed.' 

This did not apply to absolute alienations (e.g. to reverse 
a sale actually made), nor to leases to Europeans, of lands 
for dwelling-houses, gardens, or manufactories ; nor did it 
interfere with the assessment imposed by the Permanent 
Settlement 1 . 

But this wholesale avoidance of contracts made by the 
defaulting landlord, was soon recognized to be excessive. 
We gradually find new Regulations softening the terms. 

1 So that, when the estate was Permanent Settlement would, in 
sold, the Collector could not offer it many instances, have been got rid 
at a new assessment, otherwise the of. 


First, Regulation I of 1801 protected arrangements that 
might have been concluded during the year previous to 
the date of sale. Next, Regulation XI of 1822 modified the 
general rule. It no longer provided that such leases, &c., 
' stood cancelled,' but only that they were ' Halle to be 
annulled' by the purchaser: and it was also expressly 
allowed that five classes of persons who had an heritable 
and transferable interest, or raiyats who had a right of 
occupancy, could not have their engagements annulled. 
This was perhaps implied, but not stated, by the earlier 

The Sale laws of 1841 and 1845 are very much the same 
in these respects, but expressly declare the right of the 
purchaser to enhance the rents of all under-tenures and 
(after notice given) to eject tenants, subject to exceptions, 
five in number. 

Nothing further was changed till 1859. The only in- 
terest these earlier provisions now have is as illustrating 
how the revenue system grew, and how ideas regarding 
sales, under-tenures, and enhancement of rents, were gra- 
dually modified. But it is to be remembered that titles to 
existing property may still depend on the laws which were 
in force at the time when the sales, under which they arose, 
took place, and therefore the early laws cannot be omitted 
altogether from notice. 

How many difficulties have arisen out of this principle of 
sale, and the necessary ' clear title ' which goes with it, and 
how those difficulties had been met, belongs to a later 
section, where we shall deal with the modern law in its 
practical application. 

31. Effects of the Permanent Settlement and its Laws. 

Having now taken a general retrospect of the principles 
and practice of the Permanent Settlement, as regards the 
persons settled with, the nature of the revenue, the method 
of its assessment, the treatment of the waste land, the 
registration of estates, and the recovery of arrears of reve- 

CHAP. I.] 



nue, we may proceed to make a general retrospect of what 
the effects of the Settlement have been. 

The decennial Settlement, made permanent in 1793, ex- 
tended to Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa the Orissa of these 
days being (I may repeat) the tract between the Kupnarain 
and Subarnrekha rivers, now in the Midnapore district l . 

In general terms, it may be said that it disappointed 
many expectations and produced several results that were 
not anticipated. It has been stated that, at first, the 
revenue levied from the Zamindars and others made pro- 
prietors, was heavy ; but as the effects of British peace and 
security made themselves felt, and as the value of land and 
its produce rose, and waste lands were brought under the 
plough, the assessments became proportionately lighter and 
lighter 2 . And it must be borne in mind that every estate 
at the time of its original assessment contained considerable, 

1 The land-revenue, though per- 
manently fixed in 1793, was liable 
to be increased by causes which had 
nothing to do with the assessment 
of the original estates ; for example, 
the Zamindars were relieved of 
police charges, and the lands held 
free for the purpose would be called 
in and assessed as the arrangements 
were completed. Then the gradual 
resumption of invalid revenue-free 
tenures caused an increase, as well 
as the assessment of land held in 
excess ('taufir ' in revenue language) 
of the proper estate (Reg. II of 1819) : 
and there were other causes. This 
is exclusive of the revenue of tem- 
porarily settled estates, or lands 
held by Government. The Per- 
manent Settlement Revenue was 
about R. 2,85,87,722. In 1828-29, 
the demand had risen to Company's 
R. 3,04,27,770, in 1846-47 it was 
R.3,12,52,676, and in 1848 49 R.3,4O, 
96,605. In 1856-57 it appears at 
the slightly reduced figure of 3,37, 
38,783. In the following year it rose 
to R. 3,39,10,632. In 1882-83 it was 
R. 3,62,78355: the increase during 
the ten years previously had been 
more than a lakh a year. In 1888- 
89 the permanently Settled Re- 
venue was R. 3,22,90,777 (Rev. Adm. 

Rep. p. 2). These figures are cal- 
culated for the whole of the dis- 
tricts in the old Permanent Settle- 
ment, excluding Chota Nagpore 
(Chutiya Niigpur), which had not 
then been settled (Report, 1883). 

2 The revenue assessed in 1790- 
93 being, as just stated. Company's 
R.2, 85, 87, 722, or under three millions 
of pounds, the Zamindars were esti- 
mated to get, as their profit, a sum 
equal to about a tenth of the total 
assessment. They no doubt got 
more ; but even if we say a fifth, 
instead of a tenth, the rental or 
profit would be under a million. 
At the present day, judging from 
the valuation for road-cess ^made in 
respect of the rent paid to landlords 
by tenants and tenure-holders of all 
classes, plus the value of land in the 
direct possession of the proprietors), 
a fair estimate of the rental made it 
thirteen millions, and it must have 
largely increased since that date. 
The revenue they pay now is about 
three and a-quarter millions. So 
that even on the rule of ' half- rental 
assets = the revenue* prevalent in 
Northern India, they pay less than 
half (probably less than one thirds 
of what other landowners have to 


often very large, areas of culturable waste of great value ; 
and as this was entirely unassessed, all the immense sub- 
sequent extension of cultivation was so much clear profit 
to the owner 1 . 

Before, however, these changes began to tell, the assess- 
ments were heavy enough to necessitate diligence and 
prudence ; and the landlords were not able at once to keep 
pace with the inflexible demand. The consequence was 
a very widespread default. As just now explained, the 
law practically stood to enforce a sale of the estate (or part 
of it), directly the owner was in arrears, and it followed 
that large numbers of estates were put up to sale. 

'In 1796-97,' says the late Mr. J. Macneile 2 , 'lands bearing 
a total revenue of Sicca 3 R. 14,18,756, were sold for arrears, 
and in 1797-98 the Jama' of lands so sold amounted to Sicca 
R. 22,74,076. By the end of the century, the greater portions 
of the estates of the Nadiya, Rajshahi, Bishnpur, and Diiiajpur 
Rajas, had been alienated. The Bardwan estate was seriously 
crippled, and the Birbhiim Zamindari completely ruined. A 
host of smaller Zamindaris shared the same fate. In fact, it is 
scarcely too much to say that, within the ten years that imme- 
diately followed the Permanent Settlement, a complete revolu- 
tion took place in the constitution and ownership of the estates 
which formed the subject of that Settlement.' 

One effect of the ' Sale Law ' was to reduce very greatly 
the size of the Zamindaris, for up to 1845 they were sold 
piecemeal. The making into separate estates of taluqs, the 
owners of which established a claim to be dealt with sepa- 

1 Government, no doubt, after- Murshidabad, but still bearing the 
wards resumed, and assessed sepa- name of the Mughal Emperor Shah 
rately, some large areas of waste, but 'Alam. lit. Regulation XXXV of 
it was waste improperly or fraud- I 793> it was enacted that this coin 
ulentlyannexed to the estate. Many, was to be legal tender, and was to 
if not most, estates had a great deal bear the igth year of the Emperor's 
of waste which was confessedly reign for uniformity sake. Speak- 
included in their boundaries. ing roughly, three ' Company's ru- 

2 Memorandum on the Revenue Ad- pees ' equalled two sikka. The sikka 
ministration of the Loioer Provinces of contained 176-13 grains Troy, and 
Bengal ^Calcutta, 1873 , p. 9. the rupee afterwards introduced in 

3 T